A British man has raised over £5,000 to help cover the costs of life-changing medicine for a 10-year-old girl who fled Ukraine with her family earlier this year.
John Rice, who is originally from Northampton but has lived in Slovakia for a decade, welcomed the Makarenko family into his home after reaching out to them over Facebook.
Mr Rice established a GoFundMe page to raise the necessary funds to cover the costs of an insulin pump for the Makarenko family’s daughter, Dasha.
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After reaching the original funding goal in just seven days, Mr Rice said how Dasha’s father Yehevny Makarenko was “visibly shaken with relief”.
Speaking with PA news agency, he said: ““I was amazed we reached our first target so quickly and when I told Yehevny, I saw tears in his eyes and he was visibly shaken with relief for Dasha.
“The whole family are stuck in what I call the refugee cycle now, because it’s hard to get a job without residency and impossible to get health care unless you have a job or you’re resident – so you can see how difficult it is for them to fund Dasha’s medication themselves.
“It felt great when all those donations came in and a lot of them were from people I didn’t know which was even nicer.”
Having been living with type 1 diabetes since 2020, Dasha needs to take at least four insulin injections to help manage her blood glucose levels. Insulin injections can only be delivered in a set dosage, meaning Dasha may receive too little or too much medication. When this happens, she may have to repeat injections or eat food to increase her blood sugar levels.
With an insulin pump and a continuous blood glucose monitor, Dasha will automatically receive the correct doses at the required time.
Along with her father, Dasha and her mother, Svetlana Makarenko, drove for five days with their two cats before arriving in Trencin, Slovakia.
On their journey, the family nearly ran out of food, with Dasha’s parents stopping eating altogether to ensure enough food would be left to raise their daughter’s blood sugar levels if needed.
Mr Makarenko told PA: “As soon as we reached the first fundraising goal, my first thought was ‘now my child can have a life like other children’.
“This will change both her life and ours. She will be able to sleep well at night without having to check her glucose levels every two hours.
“We will not be in constant fear that she will fall into a hypoglycaemic coma, as almost happened recently.
“Before her illness she attended dance lessons and performed on stage, the disease put an end to that but now she will finally be able to take up dancing again.”
The Makarenko family have now moved into their own home, with Dasha enrolled at a local school. Despite this, they are still close to Mr Rice who has now increased the fundraising target to £8,000, after the initial goal was reached so quickly.
If you’d like to donate to the fundraiser, visit: https://gofund.me/8ee255c5