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Ukrainians in New Orleans mobilizing rallies, fundraisers

Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 4:53 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Ukrainians in New Orleans are mobilizing efforts to support their homeland in the war against Russia.

A rally will be held Tuesday and fundraisers have been launched as they urge Americans to do whatever they can to help.

The rally is being organized by Alex Orak, a third-year Tulane University medical student.

“I have been humbled by the efforts I’ve seen throughout the U.S. My classmates... reaching out to people that they’ve never met,” said Alex Orak.

Orak is part of a group organizing a Tuesday’s rally at 12 p.m. in Lafayette Square.

“We are hoping to have some speakers from the community and elected officials to show their understanding,” he said.

Orak is backing several initiatives to try and bring assistance to his homeland under siege. He is beginning an effort to raise funds through the sale of Ukrainian flag lapel pins and he’s also urging concerned Americans to support organizations like “Meest” and “Mova Poshta” which are working to distribute goods to volunteers in Ukraine.

“We are trying to figure out is the logistics of getting medication to places where the fighting is taking place right now,” Orak said.

Orak has family members in the line of fire.

“Some stay in a subway to try to hide from the constant shelling,” Orak said.

The mission is also personal for a Tulane Law School graduate. Ivan Bondarchuck lives near Kyiv, where Russia tightens its noose.

More: Ukrainian Tulane Law grad finds himself on front lines in Kyiv

“Russia’s main goal is de-militarization of Ukraine, but it’s not really because there are more civilians killed the military forces right now,” said Bondarchuk.

While Orak tries to do whatever he can to help out his homeland, he’s making it clear that he understands the dilemma America finds itself in when it comes to trying to help Ukrainians fight back.

“It’s an incredibly challenging situation and nobody wants an escalation into a much larger conflict,” said Orak.

Bondarchuk and a team of lawyers are providing legal advice to Ukrainians at risk of losing everything they own.

“Every lawyer is trying to do what he or she can to help businesses start this work right now,” said Bondarchuk.

Orak is also trying to start a clothing line to be called “Kryla” with profits going to fund Ukrainian relief.

More: Crisis deepens, Ukraine accuses Moscow of ‘medieval’ tactics

In spite of the Soviet invasion, there’s optimism.

“Ukrainian history has time again shown the resilience of the Ukrainian people and the strength of their spirit,” said Orak.

Orak hopes that spirit prevails once more against tough odds. He says Ukrainians are monitoring world support on social media and he says it is recognized and appreciated. He expects more fundraising efforts to take shape in the coming weeks.

The Ukrainian consulate in New Orleans is calling for tougher sanctions against Russia as local efforts to raise awareness pick up.

The consul also says the U.S. and its allies must consider offering Ukraine a clear path to membership in the European Union and NATO.

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