Sharing a Story: Elena and Her Children, Refugees from Ukraine.

March 18, 2022

Sharing a Story: Elena and Her Children, Refugees from Ukraine.

Elena fled the Ukraine for safety in Poland, along with her 13-year-old twins and her 15-year-old son, Daniel, who has non-verbal autism. She says that they fled their home city of Kharkiv "at the last moment.”

Now living at the refugee center in Przemyśl, Elena has no idea where she and her children will go next. They have no acquaintances or friends in Europe. Their goal for the near future is simply to calm down and stabilize Daniel, who is wildly stressed, having no understanding of their situation.

Having injured her finger while traveling on the very dirty train to Poland, Elena sought aid at the Red Cross Help Center, where the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) humanitarian mission physicians are working. Her finger had become inflamed and infected.

Elena also had to solve another problem: changing Daniel’s diaper and dressing him. Though the refugee center provides any needed supplies, she was not able to bring Daniel into the women’s toilet facility (because Daniel is a young man) or send him into the men’s facility because he is unable to perform these tasks for himself.

The Hadassah International (HI) staff, which accompanied the Hadassah doctors on this humanitarian medical mission to Poland, screened off a place for Elena and her son at the help center. HI Communications Manager Attila Gulyas helped Elena change Daniel's diaper, wipe him with wet wipes and put on new underwear and trousers, since his jeans had already been wet for several hours. On the train, Elena did not have the opportunity to do these things.

Now dressed in a new diaper and clean clothes, Daniel was able to calm down. Mr. Gulyas notes, “As I walked around the center, I saw a few families with autistic young adults. They suffer a lot. It is heart breaking.”

The Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) humanitarian mission in Poland has been co-coordinated between the HMO doctors on the ground and Hadassah International (HI). In an ongoing effort to build strategic partnerships, a coalition has been built between HMO and the Polish Red Cross, the World Health Organization, NATAN Worldwide Disaster Relief and the Polish health authorities. Hadassah’s (HWZOA) Ukraine Emergency Response campaign, kicked off in the beginning of the crisis, has successfully raised funds from donors across the US for HMO’s outreach to the Ukrainian refugees in Poland, as well as to provide care for those seeking refuge in Israel, both at Hadassah’s hospitals and our Hadassah Youth Villages.

HI has engaged Polish foundations and individuals in financially supporting HMO’s humanitarian mission. The HI team has assisted the doctors in organizing the logistics and administration of this medical operation—including transporting the HMO doctors during the mission and making sure that they have the necessary medical supplies. They also converse with the refugees that come to the HMO doctors for medical care, provide emotional support, and record their stories, while the HMO medical experts take care of their medical needs.