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From her living room in Wicker Park, Jackie Birov has put her life on hold to help Ukrainians.
“There was an organization that asked me to come, who needed people with language skills to help coordinate their evacuations, so it’s like, how do you say no to that,” said Birov.
With a background in real estate, while also pursuing a career in tech, Birov began volunteering locally to help Ukrainians since she speaks Russian. Then, when she helped her aunt and uncle escape Kyiv, she realized she could do more.
“The more involved you get, the more you hear what is needed because it changes day to day, week to week,” Birov said.
Birov grew up in the suburbs, but her parents and sister were born in Kyiv.
She volunteered with an organization this month that evacuated over 100 Ukrainians and she took supplies directly to stranded Ukrainians in Russian occupied villages.
“We went in some villages, house to house specifically. How old is your baby? What size pampers do you need? Or someone would say, ‘there is an elderly woman a disabled person in that home,’ so it was like that,” Birov said. “There’s such an overwhelming amount of grief and trauma that I didn’t really feel. I almost felt like a robot. I felt like this is my mission, I’ve got to get this done.”
She bought supplies and body armor with donations, and when she goes back next month, she will take more. She is also trying to buy an ambulance for medics whose rig was destroyed.
“It still always feels like you’re not doing enough because, at the same time one person is thanking you, another woman is calling you from there saying, ‘I’m here with my three kids. Help me get out of here,'” Birov said.
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