A war survivor family in Ukraine broke into tears after a British man raised more than £5,000 to help his diabetic daughter.
Ohan Rice, 56, who hails from Northampton but has lived in Slovakia for a decade, opened his home to the family after being forced to flee his home in Chernihiv, northern Ukraine.
Mr Rice set up a GoFundMe page to cover the cost of an insulin pump for 10-year-old Dasha Makarenko, who has type 1 diabetes and needs medication urgently.
After meeting the original fundraising target of £5,000 in just seven days, Mr Rice said Dasha’s father, 39-year-old Yehevny Makarenko, was “shaken with relief”.
Mr Rice has since decided to raise the fundraising target to £8,000.
He told the PA news agency: “I was amazed that we reached our first goal so quickly and when I told Yehevny, I saw tears in his eyes and he shook with relief for Dasha.
“The whole family is now caught in the refugee cycle, because without residency it is difficult to get a job and it is impossible to get health care unless you have a job or are a resident – so you can see how much it is. It is difficult that they have to fund themselves for Dasha’s medicine.
“It felt great when all those charities came in and a lot of them were from people I didn’t know which were good.”
Dasha, her father, and her mother, 45-year-old Svetlana Makarenko, traveled with their two cats by car for five days before settling near Trencin, Slovakia.
Mr. Rice contacted the family via Facebook and opened his home to them after learning that he had a daughter of his own age.
Dasha was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2020 and had to have at least four injections of insulin a day.
Injections of insulin with a syringe allow only a prescribed dose, which means that the condition will sometimes receive too little or too much.
When this happens he is forced to repeat the injection or compensate for the low blood sugar level with food.
The family nearly ran out of food while fleeing Ukraine, and Dasha’s parents had to stop eating to make sure there was enough food left to raise her blood sugar levels if needed.
The money Mr Rice raised would mean the family could buy an insulin pump that, combined with a continuous glucose monitor, would deliver accurate doses at the right time.
Mr Makarenko told the PA: “As we reached the first fundraising goal, my first thought was ‘now my child can have a life like other children’.
“It will change both her and our lives. She will be able to get a good night’s sleep without having to check her glucose levels every two hours.
“We will not live in constant fear that she will fall into a hypoglycaemic coma, as was the case recently.
“Before her illness she attended dance lessons and performed on stage, the disease put an end to her but now she will finally be able to dance again.”
The Makarenko family has remained close to Mr. Rice, despite now living in his own house, and Dasha is enrolled in a local school.
Before the war Mr. Makarenko was the head of accounts of a large Ukrainian electronics store and Mrs. Makarenko worked in an accounting department.
Mr. Makarenko was allowed to leave Ukraine because he is their daughter’s caregiver, but his dependence on his parents has made it difficult for him to find work.
“It’s a vicious circle,” said Mr. Makarenko.
“Due to the fact that we are in the territory of Slovakia as refugees, we are not able to get insurance, in order to get insurance we must have a job, but we cannot work because of the illness of our daughter. “
The success of the fundraising will mean that Dasha’s parents can now focus on finding work and Mrs. Makarenko has already set up an online shop selling hers. artwork,