By Madison Weber ’23, Staff Writer and Social Media Editor
On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced “a special military operation” that entailed Russia invading Ukraine – leading to a series of events that are still affecting the world today. From food drives, medical equipment, social media, and more, people all across the world are working to tell the stories of what is happening in Ukraine and how others can help — and St. John Fisher College and Rochester are no different.
Fisher student, Bogdan Rozvora’23 , has close ties to Ukraine in his heritage. “My parents immigrated to the U.S. when they were 20 years of age. I grew up learning a mix of Ukrainian and English, oftentimes supplementing words from both in sentences.” Rozvora said that he still has family all over Ukraine.
“Some friends of family have evacuated to other nearby countries while others have not been able to be contacted,” Rozvora said that witnessing the assistance from other countries has rekindled some faith in humanity for him. He hopes that after the war, Ukraine can join NATO and prevent further wars. “Winning the war and preventing further damage on Ukrainian soil is always the number one hope,” he said.
According to Dr. Oliver Griffin, professor of Modern European History at Fisher, the histories of Russia and Ukraine are complex, intertwined, and lengthy. “Both countries share a cultural history that started with an entity called Kievan Rus, which lasted from 879 until 1240,” Griffin says this common history complicates the situation tremendously. Throughout history, the area of land that now makes up Ukraine has switched ownership several times – but was often under the possession of Russia.
However, the area has faced many important events, “In the immediate aftermath of World War I, it suffered political and social turmoil regarding its sovereignty; a famine caused by Stalin in the 1930s that killed millions; and horrific violence and enormous loss of life during World War II.”
Ukraine declared its independence from the USSR in 1991 after growing nationalism, and since then it has taken steps to develop its own foreign relations. Griffin said that it attempted to reorient itself away from Russia and toward the West.
In 2013, after pressure from Putin, Ukraine did not sign a treaty which would have led to closer ties to the West. Tensions have been mounting since 2019 when the current president, President Volodymyr Zelensky, was elected. Russian troops have been building along the Ukraine border since the fall of 2021. Since the start of the attack, Ukraine has faced airborne landings, bombings paratroopers, rocket attacks, and ground forces that have led to the death of military and civilians. Putin, according to Griffin, cannot accept the idea of an independent Ukraine oriented toward the West and therefore mounted the invasion.
“The conflict is being justified by any means possible, with no legitimate claim brought forth,” Rozvora said and added that he wishes “Russia a very swift and costly defeat.” Rozvora also said he hopes that “sensibility reaches those passionate about supporting Ukraine is not discriminating people who have no involvement in the invasion”— including Russian civilians. He does ask that individuals looking to help research before donating to ensure it is legitimate.
Below includes several links to local places where donations are accepted:
Intervol is one of the ways that students can get involved – as a donation drop-off for medical supplies, equipment, and more. Curbside drop-offs are Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Through a partnership with local medical professionals, Intervol provides in-person and remote medical care to underserved areas. They are also always looking for volunteers to help collect, sort, and ship donations. For more information, students can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rozvora mentioned that donations can be made to the Ukrainian Federal Credit Union in Webster, NY. According to their website, they are accepting deposits that will be donated to ROC Maidan as well as the Ukrainian American Community Foundation for amounts of $500 or more.
ROC Maidan is a local community organization that was first formed to support “the Ukraine’s democratic voices at Kyiv’s EuroMaidan.” According to their website, they are a group of diverse professionals that represent both organizations and individuals in the Rochester area. They provide “ information, resources, advocacy, connection and communication with federal, state, and local officials, information sharing with media and educational institutions, and the general public.” It’s considered a charity arm of the Ukrainian cultural center of Rochester. The organization is housed at 1040 Jackson Road, in Webster and can be contacted at contact.rocmaidan.org or (585)-201-8085. A list of accepted items can be found here.
Catholic Relief Services
In an email and during mass, Father Kevin Mananara recommended donating with Catholic Relief Services. They offer different donation amounts for any budget, and the money will be used to help Ukrainian refugees escaping the country.
According to an email from Fr. Kevin, Campus Ministry will be gathering around the Peace Pole in the LeChase Commons at 3 p.m. in order to pray for the people of Ukraine and Russia. Dates of upcoming prayer will be on April 5 and 12.