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Ukrainian scraps holiday to help war refugees

Katya Gorbunova (File photograph)

A Ukrainian living in Bermuda scrapped vacations plans to help those who fled to Poland in the wake of the Russian invasion.

Katya Gorbunova said that while she had scheduled a holiday Nicaragua, when the invasion began she changed her plans to help those whose lives have been torn apart by the war.

She said: “I just realised I can’t. I can’t go on vacation while this is happening. I can’t imagine myself being able to relax.

“I went to my fiance and said I couldn’t go to Nicaragua and asked what he thought about going to Poland. He said he knew I wasn’t going to be able to go, and he was waiting for me to tell him.”

Ms Gorbunova said she flew to Poland on March 4, a week after the start of the war, and worked for two weeks to help those who sought to escape the violence.

“Everything was changing so quickly day to day – it still is,” she said. “I thought I would go and maybe my parents would flee and I would bring them here, but they didn’t want to leave.

“They are a bit older and they assessed the risk of being bombed as being much less than being robbed if they left the house.

“I tried to convince them, but there’s only so much I can do and if it’s their choice, it’s their decision. At least they are in an area where it is relatively safe in the very west, but they are bombing Lviv and other Western Ukraine territories.”

Ms Gorbunova said she spent much of her time in Poland on the phone, helping people flee Ukraine and connecting them with others who could assist.

She said the support for Ukranians in Poland was incredible, with Ukranian flags hung throughout the country in support of their neighbours.

“Every café and every restaurant had signs in Ukranian saying they have free coffee, tea or lunch for Ukrainians,” she said.

Ms Gorbunova said the Bermuda Red Cross had also done a superb job raising money to support Ukraine.

“The best that Bermuda can do is donate, help fundraise and demonstrate their tolerance and support,” she said.

As of last week, the Bermuda Red Crossfundraising campaign for the Ukraine had raised $380,000.

Ann Spencer-Arscott, executive director, said: “We are so grateful for the generosity of our Bermuda community for supporting these appeals.”

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Published April 20, 2022 at 7:56 am (Updated April 20, 2022 at 8:17 am)

Ukrainian scraps holiday to help war refugees

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