‘Someone wanted to help’: Ukrainian refugees build lives in Vancouver after escaping war

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In early March, Kuzmenko saw videos on Instagram of volunteers in Poland helping refugees, and she decided she wanted to help. She spoke to one of her ministers at her Vancouver church, Church of Truth, who told her that translators were needed in Romania.

Although she doesn’t know anyone outside of Ukraine, Kuzmenko bought herself a plane ticket and arrived in Romania on March 9.

“I work part-time on Grubhub, so that’s how I was able to take time out,” she said.

Once in Romania, she paid for a hotel room, where she met other volunteers. Soon after, she was traveling through Romania by Uber with a group of female volunteers. Together they helped refugees in shelters, schools, gymnasiums and churches.

“In some places there were hundreds of refugees, in others maybe 25,” she said.

Volunteers traveled from shelter to shelter from morning to night.

“We were meeting people and helping them,” Kuzmenko said. “There is a great need, not just for translation, but for emotional support, for someone to listen to them, for a shoulder to cry on. These people had to go to other countries, and they are trying to find where to stay, because they cannot stay long in the shelters. They are traumatized. They need someone to take care of them. Some places don’t have translators, so talking to someone, letting them tell their story, giving them a shoulder to cry on, is very emotional. They went through the war, they saw bombs, some of their friends and family died. It was difficult for me as a volunteer, but it doesn’t compare to what they are going through.

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