Sewa International Europe played a key role in evacuating 467 African students, including 367 from Nigeria, and another 100 from Namibia, Zambia, and South Africa, from Sumy, the northern region of Ukraine bordering Russia, on Tuesday, March 8. Sewa volunteers coordinated the evacuation efforts responding to a request by Shina Alege, the Nigerian Ambassador to Ukraine.
Nigeria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, thanked Sewa International Europe for “their amazing facilitation and coordination.” In his message, he also thanked the Government of Ukraine for providing the buses, and Shina Alege, Nigeria’s Ambassador, “for his determination and perseverance.”
Sewa Europe volunteers received the request on March 5 from the ambassador and worked closely with the Sumy State University coordinators, Sumy city administration, and the Nigerian Student Representative, Moses Fehintola. The evacuation took place around 1:20 PM Ukrainian time. The students were taken from Sumy to the Romanian border where they are expected to board flights to their countries.
Sewa International volunteers in Europe have helped nearly 12,000 individuals in the last sixteen days since the war started. Over 100 Sewa volunteers are working within Ukraine, and fifty volunteers are working in the border locations assisting people to cross the border. So far, Sewa has helped stranded people from twelve nations.
Sewa helplines continue to receive calls from stranded people and 350 additional volunteers are involved in answering the helplines and arranging for food, shelter, transportation, and other types of help in Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Finland, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Sewa is receiving outstanding support and cooperation from many Hindu religious (dharmic) organizations such as the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) as well as citizens in bordering countries such as Poland and Romania. Volunteers from ISKCON and BAPS are working together with Sewa volunteers in serving food, providing shelter, and in reaching out to people who need help.
“It is really heartening to see that Sewa’s efforts to help the African students have been fruitful and they have been evacuated from Sumy. We thank the Ukrainian Government for providing the buses and a green corridor to help these students leave the war zone. We thank Ambassador Shina Alege for providing Sewa an opportunity to serve these students who were stuck in Sumy and facing danger,” Sewa volunteers Atul Sethi from Ukraine, Nilesh Solanki from the United Kingdom, Divyang Pandya from Norway, and Heramb Kulkarni from Finland said over a WhatsApp call.
Sewa Europe is continuing its efforts to help stranded people and people affected by the war in Ukraine.