Georgia nonprofit helps evacuate Ukrainian children

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 5:45 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - A Georgia nonprofit has feet on the ground in Ukraine, their teams and partners are helping to evacuate children and families and getting aid into hard-to-reach areas.

A Ukrainian on that team talked to CBS46′s Sawyer Buccy about the evacuation of 30 children in an orphanage who are now safely out of a war zone.

Kostya Voropayev calls himself a two-time war survivor. He survived the invasion of Crimea in 2014 and now he is living through war again.

”Every day you feel a new wave of desperation, no hope as you see destroyed cities, as you see bodies on the street,” said Voropayev.

Kostya and his wife have a one-year-old son. He loves his child fiercely but he will tell you he feels a fatherly love towards every child he works with. Kostya is a Ukrainian representative for the nonprofit, YouthReach International.

”We are committed to establishing what we call mentoring communities….really what we’re trying to do on a local level is to identify and solve the greatest problems that orphans and at-risk youth are facing,” said YouthReach International President/CEO Rob Browne.

The organization sets up hubs all over the world. They work with kids who don’t have parents, kids who need mentors, kids who need support and kids who need family. They have been in Ukraine since the 1990s and the relationships the organization has built, might’ve saved lives.

”We helped 30 orphans escape from the Donetsk Region where the war started and keeps going on,” said Voropayev.

It can be easy to watch the news coming out of Ukraine and feel completely helpless but YouthReach organizers say helping Ukrainian families is a collective effort, they say donations big or small make a difference, and so do prayers.

The 30 children are now in a safe place in a country bordering Ukraine. The YouthReach International team that helped them evacuate, who risked their safety, is still working with them.

”It is just natural, to jump in like a father who sees his child in a fire. He is not thinking. He just goes,” said Voropayev.

“We are helping people who are stuck in place either because of age or medical problems or the fighting is too intense around them to be able to leave. We still have ways of getting aid to those people. We are also helping people move to safety. Once people get to those places we are helping them establish themselves,” said Browne.

One day, Kostya will tell his son about the Ukraine he knew before the war -- a Ukraine he knows will never be the same again.

”In the bottom of our hearts, we have a hope that war will end, that we will come back but when? How? No one knows,” said Voropayev.