‘They’ve helped us so much’; local Ukrainian organizations hold BBQ for refugees and hosts

As Ukrainians continue to flee their war-torn country, local organizations in London are constantly trying to find ways to make them feel at home.

On Sunday afternoon the London Ukrainian Centre, London Ukrainian Humanitarian Action (LUHA) held a BBQ at the St. George’s R.F.C hall on Dundas St.

The event was their way of saying thank you to the families who have taken refugees into their homes while offering a free meal to everyone who attended.

“There are lots of good people in London that opened up their doors,” said Volodymyr Vorobets, the president of the London Ukrainian Centre.

“It hasn’t been easy for them. I hope most of them will feel at home and find support and make new friends and connections in this country.”

“My family and I were separated in February so we came here one by one,” said Maria Polermushuck, an 18-year-old refugee from Kyiv who fled Ukraine in April.

She was living with her family when Russia launched attacks on her homeland.

Since arriving in the area she and her mother and sister have been able to stay with a local family.

“Thankfully we found some people who would help us, they have helped us with everything,” she said.

“Of course it’s hard because we miss our homeland and relatives who are still there.”

For the last three months, Michael Drul has been assisting two young men in their twenties who fled from Ukraine.

“I wanted to do something, I couldn’t just sit at home and twiddle my thumbs,” said Drul, a second-generation Ukrainian.

“Coming to Canada they didn’t realize how great Canadians are. Even the first week of them being here, people would come up to them and hear them speaking Ukrainian and sometimes offer them gift cards or pay for their things and that overwhelmed even me.”

Drul is one of 50 hosts who, with the help of LUHA has opened up their home to refugees.

“It was really nice to allow them to come in and build a little community in here and give them somewhere to hang out and have fun,” said Mark Murphy, who offered to allow the event to be held at the space at the hall.

Events like these are also becoming an opportunity for refugees to find connections with each other.

“I hope most of them will feel like home, I hope they will find support, I hope they will make new friends,” said Vorobets.

The Ukrainian Centre would like to thank all of the organizations and volunteers who helped them with Saturday’s event, including the St George R.F.C for hosting, Oxford learning, Trios college, and many more.


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