“Finding help in this clinic was such a relief! Honestly, I was shocked at how fast they helped us.” ….Oksana Z., a Ukrainian refugee
“Finding help in this clinic was such a relief! Honestly, I was shocked at how fast they helped us.”
….Oksana Z., a Ukrainian refugee
When air alerts and sirens began sounding in Odesa, Ukraine, in early 2022, Oksana Z. hid her two girls and their puppy in the safest place she knew – the corridor at their flat in Odesa. The golden retriever puppy Aslan was a therapy dog for the girls, who both have Down Syndrome.
“Bomb alarms and air raid sirens used to happen almost every single day. The girls were terrified. They just didn’t understand this loud noise they had never heard before,” says Oksana. “My daughter, Anastasia (age 20), has Down Syndrome and congenital heart disease; she has already had two heart surgeries, which means this huge stress could be really dangerous for her.” With them was Lena, age 24, who also has Down Syndrome and is the daughter of a close friend who passed away. Now Oksana considers them both her daughters.
“I didn’t sleep at night…I wanted to be ready for the worst. I sewed badges with emergency information on the girls’ coats just in case something happened to me. After several weeks I was exhausted and scared for my girls. How long can you hide in the corridor?” says Oksana. Before the invasion, the trio lived full lives, with folk dance lessons, friends and, for Oksana, a job as manager of a local Down Syndrome organization.
But after six weeks of struggling to cope, Oksana made the decision to leave Ukraine. Going without the puppy was not an option. “We were offered the possibility of going to Canada, but in that case, we wouldn’t have been able to take our puppy with us,” says Oksana with a smile. “So, we are here, in Poland, literally, because of the dog.”
In Poznan, Poland, the little family found peace, serenity, and many helpful people. In her job, Oksana used to support families and provide help for those affected with Down Syndrome. Now, she needed help and received it at the clinic run by Acceptance Foundation, an Americares partner in Poznan, Poland.
“People with Down Syndrome have to monitor their health regularly. Moreover, Anastasia has heart issues, and Lena has psoriasis,” says Oksana. “Finding help in this clinic was such a relief! Honestly, I was shocked at how fast they helped us. They not only arranged a doctor’s consultation, blood analysis, and ultrasound examination, but they also provided the medicines my girls needed. And all these were free of charge. I was shocked. Now, I know I can come here and get medical treatment whenever we need it. For a refugee and a mother with two girls with Down Syndrome, it’s crucial, “she says.
Acceptance Foundation is a transgender led organization based in Poznan, Poland, focused on providing medical treatment and support to members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Now, Acceptance also helps all people who are made vulnerable because they are excluded, discriminated against and severely affected by life and war. “Thanks to our cooperation with Americares, we were able to purchase an ultrasound machine and a blood testing machine that created conditions for providing quality medical services to the most vulnerable groups of people, like, for instance, Oksana’s family,” says Anna Szymkowiak, CEO of the Acceptance.
In Poland, the girls are calm, cheerful, and involved in new, fun activities, but they miss their loved ones who stayed in Ukraine and Oksana misses her work at the foundation helping others living with Down Syndrome and their loved ones.
“I am grateful for all the kind people I’ve met here,” says Oksana. “But I have to go back to Odesa as soon as possible. They need me on-site, in Ukraine.”
May 22, 2023
In Mwanza, Tanzania, Christina knows all too well how women can suffer without adequate health care. Bugando Medical Center offers surgical and support services for fistula that give women new life.
May 10, 2023
Stamford, Conn. – May 10, 2023 – Americares, the health-focused relief and development organization, is pleased to announce the promotion of Shripad Desai to deputy senior vice president and country team liaison. In this elevated role, Desai is responsible for working directly with Americares country team leaders in Colombia, El Salvador, India, Liberia, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Tanzania, to build and sustain the organization’s local/global operating model. Desai supports country teams managing programs at the local level, as well as ensures country directors provide input into decisions made by Americares global leadership team.
May 01, 2023
Stamford, Conn. – May 1, 2023 – Americares, the health-focused relief and development organization, has earned yet another 4-star rating—the highest possible—from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. This rating designates Americares as an official “Give with Confidence” charity, indicating that the organization is using its donations effectively based on Charity Navigator’s criteria.
April 20, 2023
Americares President and CEO Christine Squires shares an uplifting story from a recent visit to Americares India’s health programs, including one of its 13 mobile health centers, a story about a life saved by access to health care.