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Vancouver Island volunteer group helps students in Ukraine

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Ukraine has now been at war with Russia for more than 640 days. “It’s so stressful,” said Anna Terbiak, a Grade 11 student in the west of Ukraine.

Terbiak finds herself attending classes from her school’s bomb shelter weekly as air raid sirens sound throughout the community above.

“It’s hard to study but we just need to do it,” said the Grade 11 student.

“The number of times that they are down in that shelter is increasing which is obviously concerning from an educational perspective,” said Christine Lervold, a Sooke School District trustee.

Lervold is part of a humanitarian team that travelled to Ukraine to help. What was accomplished is the result of a regional effort back home on Vancouver Island.

With help from students at Oak Bay High School, two diesel-powered generators were purchased for two schools in one small community in the northwest region of the country.

The generators will keep the heat and lights on during rolling blackouts caused by Russia’s targeted attacks on Ukraine’s power grid.

“These generators will benefit everyone in the community and the schools can now act as a community warming station during those prolonged power outages,” said Victor Pas, mayor of Kamin-Kashyrs’kyi.

Transporting students to and from school has become a challenge in Ukraine as many school districts have had to loan school busses to the war effort. Those buses are being used to move soldiers to and from the frontlines.

Through the community of Colwood, a bus was purchased in Poland and is now transporting children in community in Ukraine.

“At the beginning of the war we gave up two buses,” said Oleksandr Prendetsky, mayor of Olyka. “This bus will help in a big way.”

“It is impossible to live in a modern world without technologies,” said Iryna Habar, director for a centre for professional development in Horokhiv.

Langford council contributed money for the purchase of new equipment to be used to teach children how to use and embrace new technology.

Two diesel generators provided through fundraising by Oak Bay High School students. (CTV News)

The team also got the opportunity to meet four students that will be coming to Vancouver Island for a three-week stay in April to learn about what life is like in Canada.

“They are really excited about coming to our community as well as going to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre,” said Lervold.

One of those students will be Terbiak who hopes to bring a message of her own.

“I will share about how I’m feeling about this war and how it is to live with this war when it is in your country,” said Terbiak.

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