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Grande Prairie woman heading to Europe in July to assist Ukrainians in need

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St. Catherine Catholic School teacher Bilyana Coburn is soon to be heading out to Poland as part of the Road to Ukraine program, which transports meals, medical supplies, and other items to people in need during a time of war.

Coburn feels that it’s important she goes back and helps as much as possible, as she can only do so much from home.

“I’ve been fundraising for Ukraine for a while now, almost six or seven years. I am half Ukrainian so it’s important to me to support the country. I just had this feeling that if they need help, I should be there to do what I can,” she says.

“I came across them on TikTok, so I decided to see what they’re all about. I liked the idea that they needed volunteers. They weren’t asking for donations, just people to come and be there to support Ukraine. I had already planned a trip to Europe, so I decided this is what I wanted to take part in.”

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“There’s a form you have to fill out if you’re interested and basically state how you can help. On my application, I said I could help because I speak Ukrainian, Russian, Bulgarian, French, and English. I also put down that I can cook because they also make meals and they bring them to people in need,” she explains.

“I started talking to Arthur, who is one of the organizers and he invited me to a Facebook group. We have a plan going now. I’m hoping to be there for a minimum of ten days. You land in Warsaw or some other major airport and you can take the train to the smaller city which they are based, which is 20 kilometres away from the Ukrainian border”

Coburn says that none of her family or friends have been to Ukraine since the war began.

“It was very difficult for us to get there and help. So many of us have done what we can to support them from wherever we are currently living. I do have family in Ukraine as well, with my mom’s first cousin and my godmother. I’ve been in contact with them every day,” she says.

Coburn would love to see more local people participate in the initiative.

“I’m hoping that my husband can come with me, but it depends on work. I know there are people out there that we’re in a position like I was, looking to help, physically, by being there. If there is anyone else in Grande Prairie that would like to join me, they are more than welcome. Right now they really need trained nurses and doctors,” she adds.

The organization started in England and the two people that started up the initiative were just looking for a way to help. They have set up a distribution and accommodation centre in Poland which is their base of operations.

For more information on the program, or if you would like to help, visit https://www.roadtoukraine.com/. Coburn can also be reached on Facebook via https://www.facebook.com/gpforukraine. The dates are tentative, but she expects to leave in late July.

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