Part of CardMedic’s mission is helping refugees get access to better healthcare. Recently, we’ve been fortunate enough to work with refugee Oleksandra to help translate our healthcare content into Ukrainian.
Oleksandra fled to the UK with her family after air strikes began in the Russo-Ukrainian war. As well as helping other Ukrainians navigate the NHS, our translation work is helping her support her elderly father and ten-year-old son.
Oleksandra didn’t want to leave her family and pets in Kyiv, but – after the war had begun and the first air strikes – she felt she had no choice but to seek refuge. Oleksandra began planning how to get out of Ukraine, a process which took three months including searching for a sponsor and visa processing.
Leaving friends and relatives behind who chose to stay in Ukraine, she travelled for 24 hours to England with her elderly father and ten-year-old son.
“It was very hard physically to travel by bus for 24 hours,” she remembers. “They had comfortable buses, but it was hard, especially for children and old people. We had to stop every two to three hours.”
The family were supported by Sunflower Sisters, who helped Oleksandra find a sponsor in the UK, and also by Eden Aid – a charity that brings essential supplies to the Ukrainian border, and helps refugees move from Poland to the UK.
Oleksandra was especially impressed by the organisational skills of Troels, one of Eden Aid’s founders, who’d helped set up the charity with his brother and four friends to deliver aid.
Since setting up Eden Aid in March 2022, Troels and his co-founders have made 33 trips in 129 vehicles, dropping off 385 pallets of essential aid, including sanitary products, winter clothing and baby supplies.
He’s also helped bring 1,070 people, mainly women and children, with visas into the UK, and elsewhere in Europe, along with 98 dogs, 78 cats and 2 hamsters!
Speaking about Troels, Oleksandra remembers: “Everything was organised minute-by-minute. He changed drivers every two hours, and they gave us water, coffee, and sandwiches.”
She adds, “I understood that, if anything had happened, it would all be under control because they’d even brought medicine.”
Oleksandra kept in touch with Troels after reaching the UK and moving in with a British family. And it’s through him that she linked up with CardMedic.
About a month after arriving in the UK, her son’s knee swelled up to three times its usual size, and he was taken to hospital in terrible pain.
“We came to hospital and the English doctors couldn’t understand what it was for two or three days,” she says. After a couple of MRI scans, he was diagnosed with Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterial infection that can cause serious disease.
“It was very strange – he didn’t have any scratches on his knee,” she says, adding that she was very impressed with the NHS care she received.
After taking antibiotics and attending physiotherapy, her son is now on the mend. But his experience made her think about how other Ukrainian refugees, who speak limited English, might have difficulty navigating the NHS system.
“Some Ukrainian people who are here for only a few months are afraid to go to their doctor because they don’t know English,” she says. “They decide to stay at home and treat themselves by taking over-the-counter medicine rather than visit a walk-in centre.”
Oleksandra, who’s very keen to use her skills as a product marketing specialist, was introduced to CardMedic by Troels. She’d already seen doctors using online translation tools to communicate in Ukrainian while her son was in hospital, and soon realised how helpful CardMedic’s solution could be.
“If my dad was without me, CardMedic would be a huge help because he doesn’t know any English,” she says.
Working with CardMedic, Oleksandra has been correcting and enhancing computer translations into Ukrainian. She reports that the human touch in translation is incredibly important, as machine-translated language, although helpful in certain situations, can be inaccurate.
While working on translations, Oleksandra’s son has been settling well at his new primary school and her father has been learning English – aided by his passion for English-language songs by Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.
“Today, within three months, he can answer in full sentences,” she says, excitedly. “It’s great progress he’s made.”
Going forwards, Oleksandra hopes apps likes CardMedic can not only reduce health inequalities, but also assist refugees with other common situations – such as talking to their children’s school, visiting the job centre, or even dealing with tax codes.