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Rochester native volunteering in Ukraine: “Innocent people are dying”



Rochester, New York – On Monday morning, Dr. Tanya Bucierka woke up to the sound of war.

“As everyone knows today Ukraine was hit really, really hard, and it was absolutely terrifying. I was woken up by a rocket being struck down over the house I am currently staying at so, that was really terrifying. We were without power and water for most of the day but you know Ukrainians are strong and resilient and they will prevail,” she said.

The close-knit Ukrainian-American neighborhood of Rochester is where Dr. Bucierka was born and reared.

She is currently finishing up her third mission trip to Ukraine since the crisis started in February while working as an emergency room physician in Oregon. She has assisted in providing doctors with training on emergency gear they can utilize on the front lines.

“It is amazing what they have gone through and what kinds of patients they have treated, they have had to adapt. Doctors that are used to being in the ICU are now going to the front lines and doing evacuations, everyone is doing what they can to help and that has not changed through the trips,” she said.

She had been accustomed to receiving air-raid warnings after a few weeks in Ukraine, but Monday was the first day that things “became extremely serious.”

Dr. Bucierka claimed that despite Russia’s escalation of the conflict, Ukrainians remain hopeful and that more support is required than before.

“I want people to know that the war is still happening innocent people are dying on a daily basis. Just today a playground was struck, schools have been struck, residential buildings have been struck, and we need to all continue supporting Ukraine because without their help they will not win and they are fighting for democracy for the rest of the world,” she said.

Ukrainian Americans make up a sizable portion of the population in the Rochester area.

Since the start of the conflict, a local organization called RocMaidan has been collecting money and shipping donations to Ukraine.

Darka Hawryshkiw, a volunteer, reported that the organization was able to ship 12 40-foot containers to Ukraine, each of which contained the medical equipment, sleeping bags, coats, and other materials that military hospitals had requested.

She noted that as the conflict progresses, RocMaidan is appreciative of the assistance received thus far and hopes they can maintain the momentum.

“It Is hard to see any kind of end in sight. This latest bit of bombing that has been going on and taking many lives clearly is an escalation,” she said the majority of her family still lives in Ukraine.

“We all worry about our family over there. I worry for my family, and I worry about all families. It is just a horrific time and is just an unthinkable act of aggression,” said Hawryshkiw.

Hawryshkiw claims RocMaidan is aiming to collect supplies to keep soldiers warm, like sleeping bags, socks, and thermal underwear, as the Ukrainian military gears itself for battle this winter. Walkers are also desperately needed.

Visit RocMaidan’s website for more details on how to donate and the materials they are collecting.