“I am so grateful that, thanks to Americares, such wonderful things are happening now.” Anna Szymkowiak
“I am so grateful that, thanks to Americares, such wonderful things are happening now.”
For most transgender women in Ukraine, there is no way to cross the border to Poland or other countries: Their formal documents identify them as men, so the government prohibits them from leaving the country. But, with Americares help, this group does receive specialized health care – from an ambulance that brings LGBTQ+ care to Lviv.
“Since they cannot come to us, we decided to send our ambulance with paramedics and a nurse to deliver medical help to Lviv, Ukraine,” says Anna Szymkowiak, the transgender leader of Acceptance Foundation, Americares Poland-based partner, which owns and operates the ambulance.
Americares first supported Acceptance Foundation in 2022, when Acceptance used the ambulance to evacuate people who needed medical care during transport from Ukraine – their only route to safety. In Poznań, Poland, the ambulance serves as a mobile health center for refugees staying in temporary residences, such as hotels. The clinic operated by Acceptance in Poznań welcomes all patients and has days dedicated to care for LGBTQIA+ people.
Americares funding also supported the ambulance on its additional mission to provide health care for transgender people in Lviv. Those in the process of gender transformation struggle with a lack of access to doctors, testing and medication, including hormones. Interruption or cessation of hormone therapy can have serious health consequences.
In cooperation with three Ukrainian LGBT+ organizations, Acceptance Foundation organized a reception point for the ambulance in Lviv. Patients come to the reception point for health care: Blood and other tests travel by ambulance to Poland for diagnosis and any required medicine is then delivered to the women back in Lviv. “I am so grateful that, thanks to Americares, such wonderful things are happening now, things that could never be done without your support,” says Szymkowiak.
The ambulance still evacuates patients. “We drove an elderly man from Ukraine to a hospital in Spain,” says Szymkowiak. “He had a shrapnel wound to the head and went for rehabilitation. We took one elderly lady who was terminally ill from Ukraine to her family in Germany to enable her to spend the last weeks of her life with her loved ones. Without our ambulance help, they would not be able to get out of Ukraine. Thanks to the Americares grant, we have helped more than 200 people.”
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