Russia’s ruthless attacks on Ukraine have forced over 3 million Ukrainians to leave their homeland. Jon Ostroff, the founder of Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers, is providing and facilitating humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees.
Jon believes: “Abundant miracles and opportunities arise from the worst of times. These are historic challenges. This is our opportunity to help in a way that can profoundly impact a person’s life. Our time today can improve the path that the rest of their life takes. This experience has reminded me of the goodness in people.”
In early March, soon after the war began, Jon spent nearly two weeks in Eastern Europe. He was based in Warsaw and was involved in providing humanitarian aid throughout Poland, including at the Medyka border of Ukraine. While working on the Ukrainian side of that border, Jon was contacted by a family of five refugees. Jeff Ex was an American living in Dnipro, Ukraine for the past three years. When Russia attacked Ukraine, Jeff lived with and intended to marry his partner Yuliia, adopting her three minor children. Yuliia’s kids were Ukrainian citizens and only had birth certificates for identity. On Jon’s advice, since Jeff was nearly out of money and shelter, Jeff, Yuliia and the kids arrived in Warsaw the following day by train. Soon after meeting for the first time, Jeff and Jon held a conference call with Loide Jorge, Esquire, an immigration lawyer in Washington, DC.
Because Poland and the embassy in Warsaw was overwhelmed by the refugee crisis, Loide suggested two important things.
- She urged the family to leave Poland as soon as feasible and go to one of three capital cities in Europe. The cities of Dublin, Lisbon and Copenhagen were known for accessible embassies and were known to be the most efficient for those seeking visas for travel to the US.
- Since Jeff and Yuliia intended to be married in Ukraine, Loide recommended they try to do it while in Europe, because it simplified the visa process.
Jon strongly recommended Copenhagen. While all the cities were far from Warsaw, it was only half the distance. Moreover, Jon had contacts and familiarity with Copenhagen. Everything they needed would be available in Copenhagen, from shelter, food, social services, an accessible embassy and a community committed to assisting displaced Ukrainians. A few days later, Jon and the Ex family embarked on a 10-hour van ride to Hamburg, Germany, then a long train ride to Copenhagen, Denmark the following day. This was the only way to get to Copenhagen without passports.
The last day that Jon was with Jeff, Yuliia and the kids, they were married in Copenhagen. This family of five continues to live in the home of local residents in Copenhagen that Jon connected them to. Their intention is to arrive in the Philadelphia area in the next few months. Jon, Jeff and Yuliia are currently navigating the complex immigration process to obtain travel visas to the US. Once they arrive in the Philadelphia area, they will be welcomed into a substantial Ukrainian community.
Jon, along with his family and friends, have adopted the Ex family, sponsoring them from the time they arrived in Warsaw until they all become US residents and citizens. If you are interested in making a tax deductible donation to subsidize the Ex family’s journey to the US, here is a link.
In addition to his ongoing work with the Ex family, Jon has connected with and assisted other refugee families. At 62 years old, Jon has established many contacts at home and abroad. He and his wife Amy co-founded Love To Langa, a non-profit based in South Africa. His extensive travels and work in Europe, South Africa and Southeast Asia have led to many contacts that he has relied on in this recent mission. Jon’s international skills and contacts were developed over 30 years as a lawyer, mediator, humanitarian and business leader. Jon continues to offer and provide pro bono assistance and humanitarian aid, already helping over 20 Ukrainian refugees.
Since returning to the US and while continuing to work with the Ex family, Jon assisted Mariupol, Ukraine refugee Alina Beskrovna and her mother. Jon has already been able to guide them to find safety outside of Ukraine. He acted as an advisor, assisting Alina and her mom through a 900-mile journey from L’viv, Ukraine to Copenhagen, Denmark. They traversed Poland and Germany over two days, arriving in Copenhagen by ferry. Regular contact with Alina and her driver allowed Jon to oversee and make available everything they needed in Copenhagen, including shelter, food, an immigration attorney and legal guidance, social services, an accessible embassy and a community committed to assisting displaced Ukrainians.
Alina is a courageous 31-year-old woman and Lehigh University MBA graduate, who miraculously escaped Mariupol with her mother. Most people who haven’t been able to get out of Mariupol are now trapped without food, water, or electricity. Alina and her mother were forced to shelter in a friend’s dark basement with 31 other individuals for a month, since late February. Alina is also deeply concerned about her father. She has not heard from him since February 27th. For the full story, see her interviewed in this CNN video of or her interview with NPR.
Jon continues to offer humanitarian assistance to anyone with friends or family that have left Ukraine or are able to leave but are not sure where they can go. If you know a refugee that is looking for a safe destination and they are leaving Ukraine through a Polish border crossing, Jon can provide them with options for free transportation and shelter outside of Eastern Europe. Jon is offering this assistance at no charge. He is mostly helping people to get to Copenhagen due to its accessible embassy and abundant Ukrainian outreach programs, providing diverse and sustainable long-term living options. Once in Copenhagen, Jon will assist in learning of the best, long term relocation options.
“It’s been a transformational experience, truly life-changing for me,” says Jon. “The determination, patriotism and courage of the Ukrainian people is indescribable. I’m moved to see people mobilizing across Europe and here in the US. All over the world, there is a new unity, with people doing whatever it takes to help Ukrainians affected by the war.”
Click here to support the Jeff and
Yuliia’s journey to the US.