Hope for Ukraine’s Deaf Refugees
When Becky and Daniel Woodall began their non-profit foundation for deaf people in 2014, they never expected war relief to become their focus. Their efforts, however, are helping hundreds of deaf refugees from Ukraine to navigate and survive evacuation.
“The deaf are typically last in line to get information, especially in smaller villages,” Becky said. “We spoke to a couple who knew nothing of the war until they felt the earth’s vibrations. They thought it was an earthquake, but then they saw people running because a nearby city had been bombed. So, they ran too; they literally left with the clothes on their back. And we’re hearing story after story like this.”
Becky and Daniel are both interpreters for the deaf. Daniel grew up with deaf parents, and Becky became involved with the deaf community while participating in several summer mission trips with her church. Each year they traveled to a small, independent country called Moldova, which is a strip of land about the size of New Jersey, located between Ukraine and Romania, known for producing wine and sunflower seed products.
When Becky and Daniel married, they felt a calling to stay connected with the deaf of Moldova. They formed the Woodall Foundation to support the physical and spiritual needs of the Moldovan deaf community. Every summer, the Woodalls return to help deaf individuals by going door-to-door to help those who might need food or healthcare.
This year is different. They are raising funds and communicating from afar with their teammates, who are suddenly inundated with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing through their country. The Woodalls receive daily reports of car lines 25 miles long at the border and families with children walking two days through the snow. The deaf individuals in the care of the Woodall Foundation have been fortunate to stay with church families who have opened their homes to the ever-steady stream of people.
“Since Moldova is not a European country, there’s no welfare system in place, so people spend a night and figure out their plan to keep traveling west. Our foundation is helping provide clothes and diapers, make family phone calls, and arrange transportation for the deaf people as they travel through,” Becky said.
“Deaf men are not considered able-bodied, so they can cross over with their families, whereas other men ages 18-60 are having to kiss their wives and children goodbye at the border. I think it’s really hard for Americans to relate––but these stories are real, and they are happening right now,” Becky said.
Becky’s team predicts that the flow of people through Moldova will not end soon. Many refugees say that if the war ends and their territory does not get taken, they will return.
“We will help them through that time, too,” Becky said. “I wish I could be there to help, but we’re so blessed to already have a team of faithful Moldovans there, ready to assist these people with humanitarian aid. Moldova may seem far away from Oklahoma, but the Woodall Foundation already has a history and a connection with that country.”
To learn more or make a donation, visit Facebook @WoodallFoundation.