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Indianapolis nonprofit rolls out refugee fund for Ukrainians

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More than a million people have escaped Ukraine in the last week.

Indianapolis nonprofit Migros Aid kicked off a refugee fund in what could be the start of a long-lasting humanitarian crisis.

Migros Aid estimates about 130,000 immigrants who live in the Indianapolis metroplex. Many of the immigrants are refugees from various countries. So many know the trauma that comes from being pushed out of one’s country by violence, and organizers say this fund is one of action through compassion.

Care is at the center of the Migros Aid’s work.

“I think it’s going to be an overwhelming humanitarian crisis,” said founder Joel Vestal.

Many of the people supported have been through a lot. Pierre Kaskile is following what’s happening in Ukraine but isn’t quite old enough to remember the violence in Tanzania. “I never seen the violence; my parents escaped from it. I was young.”

In the Migros Aid care club, most of the participants are 17 and younger. Many escaped war or were born in refugee camps. So, the unrest playing out on television is just all too familiar.

“It’s just painful to watch that,” Nick Sahaidachny said.

His parents escaped Ukraine in the 1930s and gave birth to him in a refugee camp.

“Witnessing what is happening today has been very — I use the term ‘vicariously traumatic’ for me — and it’s just very heart-wrenching to see this wonderful country, this sovereign country that’s being invaded so brutally.”

It’s that trauma that’s forcing Migros Aid to act and kick off a refugee fund.

“Our goal is to raise $50,000 for refugees fleeing Ukraine, with relationships we have in Poland and Romania,” Vestal said.