Young father who escaped Ukraine raising money to help brother left behind to fight

Of the 2 million refugees who have fled Ukraine, the overwhelming majority are women and children.

Men between the ages of 18 and 60 must stay and defend their country, but some are exempt, including fathers with three or more children.


Slavik Tkachuk is one of the fathers exempt, and he escaped to Germany, leaving almost everything in Ukraine behind.

"It was night, and my wife is waking me up at 4:30 a.m. She was screaming and saying to me, ‘This is war.’ Bombs or something was flying over our heads in Kyiv. It was something crazy," he said.

At that moment, Tkachuk made the difficult choice to run from war and escort his family out rather than stay and defend his country with his brother and fellow men.

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"My wish is to be in Territorial Defense like they are, but I’m afraid about my wife and children. My wife is crying all the time, too," he said.

Territorial Defense, is the newly established volunteer branch of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Slavik's family made it to Romania, where they had no other choice but to sleep in the car.

Needing to get even further to safety they made a 45-hour trip to a refugee camp in Germany all while his brother, who had no children, is still in Ukraine preparing to fight.

"We’re trying from here to help the guys. The reason we’re here is we want to find armor stuff for the Territorial Defense in Ukraine and find people to help with that and with the transport."

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He has no idea what each day will bring for his family.  At times, he feels relief that his family is still together, but in other moments there is guilt.

Tkachuk has a pretty big community here in the United States who he met while working at a summer camp a decade ago. One of those friends started a fundraiser to help refugees and the men in Ukraine who have  little to no body armor or ammunition.

The Venmo is @slaviktk, and friends are doing a direct transfer to Tkachuk.