09 May 2022
Support flows for Ukrainian refugees
The Southern Cross | May 2022
There has been an outpouring of financial and emotional support for the more than 140 Ukrainians who have fled the war in their homeland and sought refuge in Adelaide over recent weeks.
Iryna Kvasniuk, from the fundraising committee of the Association of Ukrainians in SA, said the local community – including the congregations of the two Catholic Ukrainian and two Ukrainian Orthodox churches in Adelaide, Ukrainian Women`s Organisation, and Ukrainian Social Services – had dug deep to assist the refugees who are now arriving on a weekly basis.
In recent months the Association has held major fundraisers at WOMADelaide and at the Lakes Hotel, each raising more than $50,000. The Stand With Ukraine concert at the Adelaide Town Hall on April 29 was also expected to be a large contributor to the fundraising efforts.
“The support has been overwhelming,” Mrs Kvasniuk said.
“Because of our fundraising efforts and the local donations we are now able to give $300 to each adult arriving and $100 for each child to assist with their expenses.”
In addition, the Association has been inundated with material donations from the public and has established a ‘shop’ in its community hall in Hindmarsh where refugees are able to collect free items including food, clothing, bedding, toiletries and toys.
The Association has established a website, (www.helpukrainiansaustralia.com.au) to provide information to refugees and details for those wishing to donate. Through the website much-needed accommodation for the newly arrived families from Ukraine has been found. The Association is now also holding information sessions regarding migration and visa requirements and conducting regular English classes at the community centre.
Mrs Kvasniuk, who has been principal of the Association’s Ukrainian School for the past decade, has enlisted the support of about 15 volunteer teachers to run the English language classes every Tuesday and Thursday, 10am to 2pm, for both children and adults.
“Originally, they were just going to be for children to get them ready for entering mainstream school but we have opened it up to adults because it is important for them as well,” she explained.
“The classes are also good because there they can meet other refugees, sometimes people from the same city who have had the same experiences. We also provide lunches for them on the day.”
Like other members of the Ukrainian community in South Australia, Mrs Kvasniuk said the war was very personal for her, with her mother, brother and members of her husband’s family still in Ukraine.
“I’ve lived here for 25 years but it is a war for me as well, and it’s the same for everyone here,” she said.
“Everyone in the Ukrainian community is doing a lot, we are helping others because it is our country, our people.
“To see what is happening, it’s devastating, it’s heartbreaking. You are calling your family, your friends in Ukraine and you feel like you are there because mentally your soul is there. When you hear the horrible stories from the refugees coming here, when you talk to them, what you learn is shocking.
“These people need not only financial support, English classes, they also need some change of heart, they need to tell their story and they need to see how we are together with them – we are crying with them, we are hugging them because we feel their pain and trauma.”
Amid the difficulties,
Mrs Kvasniuk said the Association also wanted to organise some “uplifting” entertainment for the arrivals.
Recently, more than 100 refugees spent a day visiting the zoo, with free admission provided and bus transport generously donated.
Donations to the Caritas Ukraine Appeal can be made at www.caritas.org.au/ukraine/
Picture: Oleksandra Atadzhanova and Svitlana Atadzhanova, who have arrived in Adelaide after fleeing Ukraine, with Iryna Kvasniuk, Maryna Braslavski and Helen Sobol from the Association of Ukrainians in SA and, below, students at the English classes.