Ukrainian refugees in U.S. try to help the war effort and restart their shattered lives

In New York, removed from her house in northern Ukraine, Valeriya Roshkovan tries to do what she will to finish Russia’s invasion of her nation.

“I can not sit and do nothing,” she mentioned earlier this month in a New Jersey warehouse the place she volunteers with the nonprofit Razom for Ukraine, serving to bundle donated firefighting tools to ship to her nation.

Roshkovan, 41, fled Konotop, her metropolis near Ukraine’s northern border with Belarus, quickly after the combating started to be able to preserve her teenage daughter protected. She needed to depart her husband and different household behind.

“The city was surrounded, all of the artillery was pointed on the city and many of the exits had been already within the palms of Russia,” Roshkovan mentioned by way of one other volunteer who translated her phrases.

“We had the hope that it’s going to complete very quickly, that the struggle shall be over,” she added. “And that we can come again shortly.”

As the primary anniversary of Russia’s invasion approaches Friday, that hope is diminished. Roshkovan has enrolled her teenage daughter at school. She’s attempting to get her to interact with their Brooklyn, New York, environment and to cease dwelling on the struggle and their lengthy escape, driving by way of Ukraine and a number of other neighboring international locations.

Final 12 months, many Ukrainians dwelling in America found Razom, a small nonprofit that began in 2014 with the mission to assist make Ukraine extra affluent. In earlier years, it had obtained round $200,000 in contributions yearly. In 2022, the variety of donors jumped from round 4,000 to 170,000 and items now complete no less than $75 million, mentioned Dora Chomiak, the group’s president.

“Lots of people are simply moved by the whole injustice of the dangerous man subsequent door to Ukraine, simply destroying lives. Persons are moved by the resilience of the individuals of Ukraine,” she mentioned.

The nonprofit stood up a logistics community, opened and staffed an workplace in Washington to advocate for Ukraine to lawmakers and granted no less than $3 million to small nonprofits in Ukraine. They’ve held virtually weekly protests in Instances Sq. to attempt to preserve the struggle within the public eye. Help for sending weapons and help to Ukraine and for internet hosting Ukrainians displaced by the struggle amongst Individuals has waned from Might to January, a current ballot from The Related Press-NORC Heart for Public Affairs Analysis discovered.

Initially, Razom targeted on sourcing and delivering tactical medical tools and communications tools to the frontlines, together with to volunteer fighters.

“Tourniquets, chest seals, totally different bandages to both cease bleeding or give the primary assist on the battlefield,” mentioned Andriy Boychuk, 35, a businessman who has lived within the U.S. for 17 years and was main the trouble on the warehouse.

“If not us, who else?” he mentioned, when requested why a nonprofit was sending provides to the frontlines. Extra lately, it has shipped mills, wooden burning stoves and candles to its warehouse in Lviv, monitoring the shipments with a software program program that Razom members developed themselves. Razom’s employees in Ukraine then reloads the products into vans to take the place wanted.

Boychuk and different volunteers mentioned packing these provides by hand is a sort of remedy for them, serving to them really feel like they’re making a distinction.

“It touches all people,” Boychuk mentioned of the struggle. “And that’s why I feel we’re right here, as a result of we need to assist and attempt to not suppose what’s occurring there as a result of it destroys individuals,”

The help they ship is according to Razom’s charitable mission, in addition to import and export rules, Chomiak mentioned. However that line is usually troublesome to navigate.

“Who’s a civilian and who’s navy? That was onerous for myself personally to sort of parse out,” she mentioned, till she realized whereas visiting Ukraine in the summertime that everybody was combating to outlive, in a method or one other.

One other volunteer, Dmytro Malymonenko, realized about Razom when the struggle started, by way of Boychuk, who’s a neighbor. “I wished to assist however didn’t understand how and the place to start out and the place to search for the group,” he mentioned.

Over the previous 12 months, the struggle’s impression has intensified for him. Malymonenko’s mom lately died in Ukraine of an sickness he mentioned was exacerbated by the stress and despair attributable to the struggle. His father returned to their hometown of Sumy, which has been beneath bombardment, to arrange a funeral.

His life has been torn aside, he mentioned, urging everybody to take some motion.

“Even a thought or a prayer may help,” he mentioned.

Roshkovan mentioned it nonetheless provides her goosebumps to speak concerning the struggle, which she didn’t consider would escape between international locations whose populations have been intertwined for generations.

“It’s not simply the struggle. It’s not simply the aggression that occurred,” she mentioned, touching the pores and skin on her forearms. “However it’s additionally the mainly breakage of these ties. It’s the large betrayal.”

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