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Ukraine stories – Yuliia Sachuk

Photo of Yuliia Sachuk

“Growing up with a disability, I heard too often that some things were not for me. They would tell my parents that mainstream school was not for their child and that they should let her go hundreds kilometers from home to the specialized boarding school. ‘Studying international relations would be too difficult.’ ‘Why don’t you study something specific for a visually-impaired person?’ But they failed. I learned to fight for my dreams, for my rights, and for my choices. Today, I’m doing everything I can to protect human rights, combat inequality and discrimination, and strengthen the community of people with disabilities in Ukraine and worldwide—so others won’t have to fight alone as I did.” —Yuliia Sachuk

Disability rights activist and Obama Leader Yuliia Sachuk was in her apartment in Kyiv the night of February 24, when Russia invaded Ukraine. As the founder and director of “Fight for Right,” an organization that promotes and protects the human rights of people living with disabilities in Ukraine, Yuliia had spent the previous weeks coordinating with various international organizations and experts to prepare evacuation plans for people with disabilities.

Through a harrowing night in the subway station as bombing began, Yuliia was in constant contact with the 2022 Obama Foundation Leaders Europe cohort. Many of the Polish, Hungarian, and Romanian Leaders had rushed to help evacuation efforts across Ukrainian borders.

A woman with a neutral skin tone sitting at a desk with a computer in front of her

Yuliia, and her entire team at Fight for Right, have been working around the clock to help evacuate people with disabilities as quickly and safely as possible, coordinating accessible shelter, evacuations, and emergency services. Through their courageous efforts, they’re ensuring those living with disabilities aren’t left out of the humanitarian efforts. You can support Fight for Right by contributing here: (Opens in a new tab).

Yuliia and our Obama Foundation Leaders across Europe are doing critical humanitarian work and reaching out to each other to form a network of immediate aid and support during this difficult time. Together, they are ensuring every person—no matter their ability—has an opportunity to find refuge from the war in Ukraine.

President Obama discusses Obama Foundation Leaders responding in Ukraine

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Humanity in a time of crisis

Crises don’t build character, they reveal it.

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How you can help the people of Ukraine

The impact of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has been devastating. And while the situation continues to escalate, so does the need for help—from emergency relief on the ground, to support for those fleeing to neighboring countries.

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