Diaspora

Lithuanian woman helps Ukrainian children, families escape war zones on bus rentals – Fox News

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Lithuanian nurse Gintare Gnedojute tells ‘Fox & Friends First’ how she’s helping children and families escape Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Gintare Gnedojute, a Lithuanian nurse, has rented a bus to help transport children and families from war zones in Ukraine to Lithuania.
Transporting one bus full of children and families can take between four and five days due to long lines of people trying to cross the Ukrainian border and the logistics of traveling through combat areas with a large group of people, she told Fox News Digital.
Gintare Gnedojute aboard her rental bus. (Credit: Gintare Gnedojute)
Using personal funds — as well as donations from friends — Gnedojute, 36, set out to rent the bus on her own and use it to travel to dangerous war zones to evacuate children and bring them to a safe place in Lithuania.
She has since joined a convoy of other vehicles and volunteers consisting of truck drivers, bus drivers, a “colonel” who runs a nonprofit, an EMT and a law enforcement officer. They travel together and take turns driving the bus she rented, so they do not have to stop at all. The convoy transports humanitarian supplies into Ukraine and refugees out of Ukraine.
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“It is dangerous to stay inside Ukraine, so we decided to keep moving all the time. … We don’t stop. We don’t hide. We are on a mission.”
The convoy’s first destination was P’yatykhatky, a city about 560 miles inside Ukraine. In a video Gnedojute shared with Fox News Digital, officials make airstrike warnings on the radio playing inside the bus while they pass through Livov.
Gintare Gnedojute and members of the convoy. (Credit: Gintare Gnedojute)
“From there, we picked up 41 people, children who lost their parents and their new legal guardians,” she explained, adding that they picked up more people on the way back to Lithuania. 
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The colonel, who has run a nonprofit to help Ukraine since Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, got a Lithuanian city to donate an ambulance to the convoy, according to Gnedojute.
Ukrainian family on Gnedojute’s bus (Credit: Ginture Gnedojute)
Ukrainian girl on Gnedojute’s bus (Credit: Ginture Gnedojute)
Ukrainian boy on Gnedojute’s bus (Credit: Ginture Gnedojute)
Ukrainian girl on Gnedojute’s bus (Credit: Ginture Gnedojute)
“So many people are coming in and helping. When I started this, it was a one-woman mission. And now, when people see what I do, they are inspired, and they want to help. I have faith in humanity, and [our] love for each other will win this war. We are stronger together,” she said.
Gintare Gnedojute and members of the convoy. (Credit: Gintare Gnedojute)
On Friday evening, Gnedojute and her convoy had plans to drive to the southern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, which came under Russian fire on Friday morning. One of the convoy buses broke down at the last minute, however, and now the group is waiting for it to be repaired before they continue into Ukraine again. The convoy would prefer two buses to transport as many people back to Lithuania as possible, but Gnedojute said they will leave on Saturday morning with or without the second bus.
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“I can only afford one bus at the moment, but we will go tomorrow anyway, even if we have just one bus. Still better than nothing,” she said.
The Ukrainian State Emergency Service said Friday that Russian forces targeted Dnipro with three airstrikes on Friday morning, “hitting a kindergarten and an apartment building near the kindergarten.” At least one person died, according to officials.
Dnipro after Russian attacks on March 11, 2022. (Ukraine State Emergency Services)
Dnipro after Russian attacks on March 11, 2022. (Ukraine State Emergency Services)
Dnipro after Russian attacks on March 11, 2022. (Ukraine State Emergency Services)
“I’m not a crier,” Gnedojute said, “but in these situations, there is a limit to how strong you can be. So much tears. People crying [tears of] joy when they see we have come all this way to pick them up. Families cry when they have to part, as men are not allowed to leave.”
“It breaks your heart.”
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When Ukrainian refugees first board the bus, they look pale and don’t talk much, she explained. It takes “hours” before “they can rest and understand” that the convoy has come “to help them and wish them no harm,” Gnedojute explained.
“They often ask me why I do this. Why do I risk it to come all this way, why? They don’t understand. I don’t understand. I can’t put it in words. It’s more of a feeling. I know I have to. I know I can’t just sit at home and watch all this happening and do nothing. I will go as long as my funds allow me,” she said.
Convoy delivering humanitarian supplies. (Credit: Gintare Gnedojute)
Gnedojute has two degrees — one in nursing and one in hospitality — but she said her “calling is to help people” and she does it with “great honor.”
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An estimated 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine as of Friday, including 1 million children, according to UNICEF.
The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) estimates that a total of 41 Ukrainian children have been killed since Feb. 24 when Russia invaded, but Ukraine’s Commissioner for Human Rights Verkhovna Rada is saying that a higher number of children have been killed, 71, and more than 100 injured as of Thursday.
Audrey Conklin is a digital reporter for FOX Business and Fox News. Email tips to audrey.conklin@fox.com or on Twitter at @audpants.
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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2022 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Factset. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. Legal Statement. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper.

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