MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Oksana Zamfira and her friend Camelia Catruc are among the Miami-Dade County residents who are doing everything they can to help Ukrainians.
Zamfira was born in Odessa, a port city on the Black Sea in southern Ukraine and Miami Beach’s new sister city. Catruc was born in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, Ukraine’s southwestern neighbor.
Zamfira’s brother is fighting in Ukraine as a civilian volunteer. She is helping his unit and nonprofit organizations that are offering relief.
The war has been ongoing for more than two months.
“We have corroborated 7,061 civilian casualties, with 3,381 killed and 3,680 injured across the country since the beginning of the armed attack ... The actual figures are higher and we are working to corroborate every single incident,” Matilda Bogner, of the United Nations, told reporters on Tuesday.
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Catruc, of Sunny Isles Beach, said there is a need for medical supplies and protective gear such as bulletproof vests and helmets.
“The guys over there that are protecting the city don’t have enough equipment,” Catruc said.
On the web: Contribute to the Odessa Peace Fund
Zamfira has made the 11-hour flight to Poland regularly with dozens of suitcases full of supplies. She has met with a Ukrainian friend who crosses the border and delivers it to Odessa.
“In two weeks, it will be one more time,” Zamfira said about her upcoming trip.
Amid the ongoing refugee crisis, they are also selling handmade crafts by Ukrainians such as embroidery and jewelry. Catruc and other volunteers set up a tent during the Lincoln Road market in South Beach.
The need is dire. The United Nations estimated on Thursday that more than 6 million people had fled Ukraine by May 11. More than 3.2 million are in Poland. Women and children account for 90% of the refugees. Ukrainian men who are age 60 or younger aren’t allowed to leave the country.
“A problem right now, it’s kids without parents if we can help them too,” Zamfira said.
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The Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce is fundraising to get firefighting equipment and first responder gear to Odessa. They are working with The Global Empowerment Mission, a Doral-based nonprofit organization founded by Michael Capponi, a member of the chamber.
Their fundraiser will be at 4 p.m., on June 12 at Mango’s Tropical Cafe, at 900 Ocean Dr., in South Beach. For more information or to buy a $50 ticket, visit the EventBrite page.
On the web: Contribute to GEM’s effort
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