Around this time last year, Andrew Roman ’21 was planning his graduation celebration from Florida Southern College, while also beginning work toward his Master’s in Business Administration.
This year, Andrew is risking his life to help Ukrainian citizens as their months-long war with Russia continues.
Andrew, who is of Ukrainian descent, has undergone several trips deep into Ukraine to deliver supplies and bring refugees to safety.
“Initially, I was trying to fly to Romania after the war started so I could meet with family members who were trying to leave Ukraine,” Andrew said. “Then one of my cousins got drafted (into the Ukraine Army) and the rest of my family decided to stay. I was already in Germany at that point, and I found some way to volunteer driving supplies into the country.”
Andrew met up with a church group in the Czech Republic and set out from Prague into Poland and then into Ukraine, delivering much needed supplies like food, medicine, and diapers.
“I got to see what they really lack,” Andrew said. “I’ve never seen a people that are so tough, so resilient. They don’t seem like they’re broken up about (the situation), but they are.”
After seeing the horrors of war in person, Andrew, with the help of his mother, started a non-profit organization to help Ukrainians through a website called www.ukranianpeace.org. The GoFundMe he started has also raised more than $13,000 as of April 29.
In addition to basic needs, Andrew is also concerned with buying more vehicles to get supplies into Ukraine.
He said they have already purchased one van and are close to acquiring another to add to the existing humanitarian fleet that has been undergoing their dangerous mission.
On trips into Ukraine, Andrew drives a van stuffed with supplies and then leaves with as many as 14 refugees on his way back to Poland.
Andrew is headed back on May 2, and he is bringing some protection with him.
Thanks to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), Andrew is going back with more than 150 bullet-proof vests. The MCSO donated the vests because they were past their five-year warranty, meaning new vests had to be purchased even though there is nothing wrong with the vests that were given to Andrew.
“We’re giving some of them to civilian drivers who are going farther East (into Ukraine),” Andrew said, noting that he has seen some vans come back with bullet holes in them. “The ones we have left over we are bringing to my cousin’s battalion in the army.”
Despite the heroic nature of his mission, Andrew does not see himself in that light.
He knows some have it worse, and he is only trying to do what he feels is right.
“I didn’t know what to expect at first,” he said. “I was pretty scared crossing the border, but after a couple of days it felt more normal. Even the air-raid sirens became normal after a while. The way I look at it, I’m not in any more danger than (others). For me to go for a couple of weeks, it doesn’t seem like I should be that worried. I have friends that I’m working with that are going into non-Ukrainian-held territory now. They’re the ones that are brave.”
“This seems like this is my calling. This is God’s plan for me. Everything has fallen into place.”
If you would like to help Andrew and the people of Ukraine, you can donate to the ukranianpeace.org GoFundMe here: https://gofund.me/058340c2