Just days after fleeing the war, Ukrainians who have found refuge in Montreal are giving back by volunteering at a donation center for their fellow citizens.
“Since there is someone who helped me when I arrived here, I want to help the others who will arrive,” says Svitlana Sushko.
The lady from Kharkiv, Ukraine, landed in Montreal only a week ago. But already, she gives her time to the donation center La Terrasse, in the Côte-des-Neiges district.
At the beginning of April, the owners of the Hotel Terrasse Royale decided to transform a former restaurant located in the basement of their establishment into a charity center so that Ukrainians newly arrived in Montreal could obtain clothes, toys and hygiene products, in particular.
As soon as it opened, some people helped wanted to give back.
“I want to pass on the generosity and the welcome I received to others,” says Ludmila Kovalenko, who arrived in Montreal on April 4.
Volunteering in their community allows many Ukrainians to maintain a certain mental balance.
Ms. Sushko, who was a teacher in Ukraine, offered to come every day to take her mind off things.
“When I stay at home, I cry all the time,” she says, in Russian.
Tatiana Brailovskaia, who translates her words for Le Journal, is convinced of the usefulness of such work.
“We try to invite them to volunteer here to give them the chance to have a schedule. Get out of your house and come here so you don’t stay home and watch the news 24 hours a day,” says the volunteer, who arrived from Russia 30 years ago.
“I don’t have a job, but it makes me feel useful and keeps me from being overwhelmed by everything that’s going on [en Ukraine] confirms Ms. Kovalenko.
Ms. Brailovskaia is still trying to convince other newly arrived Ukrainians to come and lend a hand at the centre, which has so far helped around 200 refugees.
For example, she approached a sexagenarian, who was a truck driver before the war, to have him repair pushchairs that had been received and needed a little tune-up.
According to Ms. Brailovskaia, this exercise would be beneficial both for the center and for him.
“For men, it’s more difficult to lose their autonomy,” she points out.