Baking

United front in Ukraine holds fundraiser as Russian and Belarusian women join efforts to buy medical equipment

Anna Fletcher of Ukraine, center, launched a pastry fundraiser supported by Yuliya Pollock of Belarus, left, and Olga Son of Russia, right, who are also deeply saddened by the war.

Tom Lee / Stuff

Anna Fletcher of Ukraine, center, launched a pastry fundraiser supported by Yuliya Pollock of Belarus, left, and Olga Son of Russia, right, who are also deeply saddened by the war.

Across the world from the battle lines of the war in Ukraine, a united front of Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian women held a bake sale in support of the victims.

The aim of Sunday’s sale was to raise $5,000 for specialized medical equipment needed in the war-torn town of Chernihiv, an area that is of particular support to Hamilton-based Ukrainians.

Their stall at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market in Claudelands was doing a booming business when a Thing journalist and photographer visited, locals grabbing the range of pastries available.

Organizer Anna Fletcher – a Hamilton-based Ukrainian whose hometown is Krivoj Rig in eastern Ukraine – said the blood testing equipment was specifically requested by volunteers in Chernihiv.

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Local helpers from Russia and Belarus, an ally of Russia, showed up to help with the fundraiser after reading local Facebook posts, she said.

Fletcher said his first reaction to the Russian invasion was, “My heart was just broken, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat.”

A Hamilton-based Russian volunteer at the stand, Olga Son, from the Russian Far East, said of the invasion “I think it’s a terrible thing and I’m against war”, that she described as a tragedy for both countries.

His message to Russian leader Vladimir Putin: “Just stop the war.

The Ukrainian community of Hamilton held a bake sale at the Hamilton Farmers' Market to raise funds to send medical supplies to Ukraine.  They were supported by local volunteers from Russia and Russia's ally Belarus.

Tom Lee / Stuff

The Ukrainian community of Hamilton held a bake sale at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market to raise funds to send medical supplies to Ukraine. They were supported by local volunteers from Russia and Russia’s ally Belarus.

Volunteer Yuliya Pollock, from Belarus neighboring Ukraine, called the invasion “absolutely shocking”.

“I am embarrassed to be part of it, reluctantly. I have many Ukrainian friends.

Fletcher, a history teacher who arrived in New Zealand five years ago after meeting her husband Mathew in Australia, is currently a full-time mother to her two-year-old daughter.

She is eagerly awaiting her 70-year-old mother’s arrival in New Zealand after successfully applying to enter the country under the government’s new special visa regime for family members of locally based Ukrainians.

A bakery stand at the Hamilton Farmers' Market was doing a thriving business on Sunday morning.

Tom Lee / Stuff

A bakery stand at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market was doing a thriving business on Sunday morning.

His mother had fled to Lviv in western Ukraine from her hometown in the east after the invasion.

“I will be very happy to see her again,” said Fletcher, who has not seen his mother for three years and is tasked with arranging for her departure from Ukraine.

We hope his mother will arrive here in a fortnight.

While her mother had left Krivoj Rig, Fletcher said she personally still had friends, men and women, who wanted to stay there and fight the invasion.

“I’m so worried about all of them.

“They don’t want to leave their hometown and their homes.”

Elena Mehrtens, Ukrainian from Hamilton, with some of the goodies on sale at the stand.

Tom Lee / Stuff

Elena Mehrtens, Ukrainian from Hamilton, with some of the goodies on sale at the stand.