Ukrainian family moved to tears by fundraising to help diabetic daughter

A family escaping war in Ukraine was moved to tears after a Brit raised over £5,000 to help their diabetic daughter.

John Rice, 56, from Northampton but living in Slovakia for ten years, opened his home to the family after they were forced to leave their home in Chernihiv in northern Ukraine.

Mr. Rice created a GoFundMe page to cover the cost of an insulin pump for 10-year-old Dasha Makarenko, who has type 1 diabetes and urgently needs medication.


Makarenko, 10, her parents and their two cats traveled by car for five days before reaching safety in Slovakia. (John Rice/Pennsylvania)

After the initial fundraising goal of £5,000 was reached in just seven days, Mr Rice said Dasha’s father, Yevgeny Makarenko, 39, was “clearly overwhelmed with relief”.

Since then, Mr Rice has decided to increase the fundraising goal to £8,000.

He told the PA news agency: “I was amazed that we reached our first goal so quickly, and when I told Yeghevny about it, I saw tears in his eyes, and he was clearly relieved for Dasha.

“The whole family is now stuck in what I call the refugee cycle because it’s hard to get a job without a residence permit and it’s impossible to get medical care if you don’t have a job or are not a resident – ​​so you can see how difficult it is for they finance Dasha’s medicines themselves.

“It was great when all these donations came in and a lot of them were from people I didn’t know, which was even nicer.”


Dasha Makarenko, 10, a type 1 diabetic, was in urgent need of medication after her family left their home in Chernihiv in northern Ukraine. (John Rice/Pennsylvania)

Dasha, her father and her mother, Svetlana Makarenko, 45, traveled by car for five days with their two cats before they settled near Trencin, Slovakia.

Rice contacted the family via Facebook and opened up his home to them after learning they had a daughter the same age as his own.

Dasha was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2020 and needs to take at least four insulin injections a day.

Insulin injections with a syringe only allow the prescribed dose to be administered, which means that Dasha sometimes gets too little or too much.

When this happens, she is forced to repeat injections or compensate for her low blood sugar with food.


Evgeny (right) and Svetlana Makarenko with their 10-year-old daughter Dasha and their two cats traveled by car for five days before reaching safety in Slovakia. (John Rice/Pennsylvania)

While fleeing Ukraine, the family nearly ran out of groceries, and Dasha’s parents had to stop eating to make sure there was enough food to raise blood sugar levels when needed.

With the money raised by Mr. Rice, the family will be able to purchase an insulin pump that, in combination with a continuous glucose monitor, will automatically deliver the exact doses at the right time.

Mr Makarenko told PA: “Once we reached our first fundraising goal, my first thought was, ‘Now my child can live like other children.’

“It will change both her life and ours. She will be able to sleep well at night without checking her glucose every two hours.

“We will not be in constant fear that she will fall into a hypoglycemic coma, as she almost happened recently.

“Before her illness, she attended dance classes and performed on stage, the illness put an end to this, but now she can finally take up dancing again.”

As soon as we reached our first fundraising goal, my first thought was: “Now my child can live like other children.”Evgeny Makarenko

The Makarenko family has remained close to Mr. Rice, even though they have now moved into their own home, and Dasha has gone to a local school.

Before the war, Mr. Makarenko was the head of the key account department of a large Ukrainian electronics store, and Ms. Makarenko worked in the accounting department.

Mr Makarenko has been allowed to leave Ukraine because he is looking after his daughter, but her dependence on her parents prevents them from finding work.

“It’s a vicious circle,” Makarenko said.

“Due to the fact that we are on the territory of Slovakia as refugees, we cannot get insurance, to get insurance we must have a job, but we cannot work because our daughter is sick.”

The success of the fundraiser will mean that Dasha’s parents can now focus on finding work, and Ms Makarenko has already set up an online store selling her clothes. piece of art.

To donate to the fundraiser, visit: