SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — A non-profit organization with ties to Utah is making a difference for children from Ukraine.
Birds for Sofia connects those children, who have rare genetic diseases, with life-saving treatment that they otherwise might not get.
“We [are] overwhelmed with applications,” said Natalia Miller, a Utah resident and native Ukrainian who sits on the organization’s board of directors. “Every single week we get more and more and more, so the need is still so high, and we [are] just committed to continue.”
Tatyana Cherevashenko was six months’ pregnant when Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. She fled with her son to Poland while her husband stayed behind to fight.
After little Emma was born, the family was allowed to reunite briefly because they had learned the infant had a rare genetic disorder known as spinal muscular atrophy, and they were not sure if she would survive.
“I was really not in a good place,” Tatyana remembered.
While in Poland, she met someone who found an organization that could help – Birds for Sofia. The organization resettled Tatyana and her two children in California through the Uniting for Ukraine program.
Emma has been receiving treatment there, and her symptoms so far have not appeared, her mother told KUTV 2News.
Miller said getting involved with Birds for Sofia, which now has an office in Salt Lake City, has helped her find a way to support her fellow Ukrainians during a difficult time.
“I was in a lot of pain when the war started,” she said, “and it helped me to feel that I’m actually doing something.”
Matthew Lambert, a Utahn who is also on the Birds for Sofia board, said the organization has given these children a critical chance.
“When the war broke out, these kids who were already desperate went from bad to worse,” Lambert said. “It is gratifying to be able to help not just people in that country, but probably kids who are in the most vulnerable situation.”
Meanwhile, Tatyana and her children plan to be in California for another year or so while Emma receives treatment.
Tatyana said she’s thrilled with her daughter’s progress because of Birds for Sofia. For her family – still separated by war – it’s a bright spot in a difficult time.
“I’m very, very, very grateful to them,” Tatyana said. “Truly.”
More information on the charity, as well as how to get involved, can be found at birdsforsofia.org.
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