There has been a huge response to a Maple Ridge couple’s plea to assist Ukrainian refugees.
Aleks and Natalia Vrublevskij are entrepreneurs who have lived in Canada for 20 years, and last week they put out the call for help for their many loved ones and countrymen fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
They were assisted by two city councillors from Maple Ridge in Ahmed Yousef, who has personal experience working in war zones, and Gordy Robson, whose family took in some 17 refugees from the Syrian conflict. Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag and Langley City Mayor Valaria VandenBroek have also been involved.
There have been impressive developments around this group, which calls itself the Ridge Meadows Ukraine Welcoming Committee.
The city councillor has contacts from his days working with the U.S. Department of State and Department of Commerce in Kuwait. Through them, the group has established two warming centres in Poland, on the border with Ukraine, consisting of 40×20 shelters with heat and concrete floors. They will be in operation by Saturday, and stocked with military ready-to-eat meals, said Yousef.
As soon as the Canadian government allows, they can start arranging flights to Canada, he added.
Yousef said people from Maple Ridge have been “absolutely phenomenal” with their generosity. Vacant rooms have been offered, rental units, an ESL teacher offered her services, and all kinds of employment proposed – from people needing babysitters to electrical businesses needing to fill positions.
“It’s really heartwarming,” said Yousef, noting that Natalia has been processing hundreds of emails.
The Rotary Club of Haney is also offering to help, and will assist in the collection of financial donations, using their charitable status.
The response has come from across B.C., and Yousef noted one woman from Port Alberni said the group can access her 70-acre property, for shelters, RVs or whatever use is needed.
To handle all of the contacts, Yousef said the group is building a website where people can donate or pledge some assistance. For now, people can access the group through the email email@example.com.
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