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Cariboo woman fundraising for Ukrainian refugee shelter near Prague

‘We are doing our best to help out financially from across the Atlantic Ocean’: Sandra Kelly Klassen

A woman living in the Cariboo is helping fundraise for a shelter on the outskirts of Prague that is housing Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.

Sandra Kelly Klassen said her sister Colleen Kelly, living near Prague, is busy helping and supporting the shelter in any way she can.

“We are doing our best to help out financially from across the Atlantic Ocean,” Sandra said from her home at Deep Creek, north of Williams Lake.

Last week Sandra started a crowd fundraiser - Jar of Honey, for Ukraine - and already many people from the region have contributed or spread the word.

“Everything is happening at a rapid pace as the refugees flood into Prague by the thousands,” Sandra said. “The donations from our friends and family and the people who have responded to the GoFundMe page are making a difference. We are happy to do what we can to help ease the pain and suffering of the Ukrainian refugees.”

Both Sandra and Colleen were born in Williams Lake, where they lived until 1976. Sandra returned to the Cariboo in 2008 with her husband and they love the area, she said.

Colleen moved to Prague in 1992, and worked there until two years ago when she moved about an hour outside the city.

Colleen noted in an email that 20 women and children had arrived by train on March 7 to the shelter after fleeing Ukraine amid the Russian invasion and were in desperate need of help.

“These refugees were offered a former building belonging to the municipality of Zbraslav on the outskirts of Prague and the number of 20 quickly became 60.”

Her friend Katerina Altenburg has asked her to spread the word about the shelter.

Altenburg told the Black Press Media through text messages the shelter has running water, a kitchen, a room for the children to play and learn, two TVs to help them with exposure to the Czech language and also keep up with the news.

“Czech national TV began to offer Ukrainian translation for the news,” she said.

There are many refugees for whom there is no shelter and many are staying in school gyms and the government is arranging for tent camps, which she said, “is better than nothing but the situation is grave and heartbreaking.”

“The only solace in all of this is the incredible solidarity people have been showing so far and hopefully will carry on to do so as this will not be resolved in a matter of weeks.”

In a Facebook message Tuesday, March 15, Colleen said the situation is worsening and refugees arriving are traumatized.

When asked what they need the refugees cannot answer, despite having next to nothing with them, she added.

READ MORE: ‘Why? Why? Why?’ Ukraine’s Mariupol descends into despair

READ MORE: B.C. family in Ukraine helping thousands of refugees with food, shelter

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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