Due to the massive number of people requiring urgent evacuation and lacking the means to do so, the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce along with its partners in Ukraine have created the very first emergency evacuation fleet transporting people under fire from the front lines of fighting in Ukraine.
As opposed to other evacuation efforts, which operate at specific scheduled times, the evacuation fleet - consisting of two coach buses, a Sprinter, and two ambulances to help evacuate the sick and elderly and infirm - are manned around the clock by Ukraine Hatzolah volunteers and rapidly respond to people living under fire. The uniqueness of this fleet allows constant deployments to areas of need of evacuation vehicles to those most urgently in need and with no alternative to escape.
“This is literally saving lives,” Shloimy R. of Ukraine Hatzolah said. “When there is an immediate need for a vehicle to get someone out of an area, we know where to turn to – the Chamber’s fleet.”
More than $500,000 was raised by the Chamber’s founder and CEO Duvi Honig to facilitate the creation of this fleet, which was then transferred directly to the relevant activists on the ground with the profoundly appreciated assistance of cryptocurrency legend Brock Pierce of the Bitcoin Foundation. Mr. Pierce was instrumental in getting the funds to where they had to go, as financial dealings in Ukraine have become exceedingly difficult.
Philanthropists across the world have been part and parcel of this effort. Several major donors have sponsored the prohibitive costs of the buses and Sprinters, while a grassroots effort from listeners of Yitzchok Shlomo Dresdner on Kol Mevaser raised the funds necessary for the purchase of two ambulances after an appearance on the show by Honig.
“Despite the difficulty of finding suitable evacuation vehicles, our extensive network in Ukraine and across Europe is paying off,” Honig said. “We are equipped to evacuate people day and night. The Chamber and its partners are sparing no effort and leaving nobody behind.”
The fleet and the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce have been helping people from the first moments of their evacuation all the way through until they reach shelter and safety in another country. Besides for assisting in their evacuation, the Chamber facilitates their safe and expedient processing at the border and has ensured shelter and staples for them as they cross to refuge in other countries.
“They held my hand every step of the way. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. Perhaps I wouldn’t even be alive,” a refugee who escaped to Israel recounted.
As the Chamber’s evacuation fleet continues to save people from the war in Ukraine, there is a lot more work to do. There are currently an additional three ambulances and a Sprinter vehicle that have been inspected and are available to be purchased to facilitate even more evacuations and save more lives, but they must be bought in cash, and soon.