Ukraine-Russia: Hibs fans helped Ukrainian orphans to escape Dnipro
The children, who lived in three different orphanages in Dnipropetrovsk, arrived safely in the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Wednesday evening.
From Lviv, they will attempt to cross into Poland. The charity is urgently working to find them a place to stay, as they have so far only been able to secure temporary accommodation for one night.
The charity have also managed to get another 18 orphans on a train today, and are working towards helping other orphanages evacuate from the city.
While Dnipropetrovsk is not currently under attack, Duncan MacRae, the Media Manager for Dnipro Kids, believes it is a likely next target for the Russian military.
Dnipro Kids was set up in 2005 by Hibs fans, following a UEFA Cup trip to the Ukrainian city of Dnipro.
A handful of supporters organised a charitable collection for local orphans living in the city. After the trip, they decided to continue their efforts and formally register as a charity.
Over the years, Dnipro Kids has helped provide healthcare, clothing, beds and other essentials to six orphanages in the city.
Mr MacRae said the charity is also focused on “giving the kids happy memories”.
Committee members send the orphans Christmas and birthday presents, and before Covid, they took the children on two trips a year to different places in Ukraine.
Many of the committee members, including Mr MacRae, have visited the orphanages and met the children who live there.
He said: “They are absolutely amazing. You couldn’t meet a better bunch of kids, and the orphanage parents who look after the children are really inspiring.
“They’re just fantastic people. They treat us like family.”
Talking of the charity’s efforts to evacuate the orphans, he said: “It’s like trying to get family out.
“We’re all very dedicated. We’re going to do whatever we can.”
Mr MacRae hopes that they will be able to get the children over to Scotland. However, he said: “There's still a lot of uncertainty with regards to visas to help children come into the UK.”
Over the past two weeks, £15,000 has been donated directly to the Dnipro Kids Appeal, while a fundraiser started by the Hanlon Stevenson Foundation has so far made £44,500 for the charity.
Mr MacRae said the amount of donations was "unbelievable”. He added: “We really appreciate everyone’s support, because these kids need it.”
However, he urged the public to make a long-term commitment to the charity, saying: “The amount of money that people have helped us raise is fantastic, but sponsors are really going to help to ensure that we can support these children in the months or potentially years to come”.