Dunsborough residents unite to raise funds for Ukraine

Sending support: Natalyia Komendar with daughters Alexandra and Sophia.
Sending support: Natalyia Komendar with daughters Alexandra and Sophia.

The Dunsborough community has come together to raise funds for people in Ukraine, with a concert at Lions Park on Saturday March 12.

A group of residents and the Dunsborough Progress Association joined forces to organise the event, after they were inspired by a vigil at Our Lady of the Cape Primary School.

One of the organisers, Dunsborough resident Nataliya Komendar, is from Ukraine.

"Like many people, it was difficult to live in the Ukraine from 1991 so I was working at many places around the world and fell in love with an Australian," she said.

"We moved to Dunsborough in 2011 and I became a citizen in 2014."

Mrs Komendar said many people in Ukraine were helping with the current conflict where they could, by driving people across the borders or unloading supplies from the Red Cross.

She explained that some people are making Molotov cocktails and constructing barriers on the streets to stop the Russian military vehicles.

"These people are peaceful, normal people who love their homes and work, and they are making the best of their situation. They would never have dreamed they would have to do this," she said.

One of Mrs Komendar's friends lives on the border of Hungary, and has a small private hotel which they are using to support the refugees.

She said refugees were coming from Kyiv, Kharkiv and other places, and two-person rooms were housing up to eight people.

Mrs Komendar's friend drives them to the border, paying for petrol and food from her own pocket.

The funds from the concert and donations will primarily go to ACTED, a humanitarian agency coordinating the cash-based response in the country.

Resistance: People in Ukraine are collecting empty bottles to make Molotov cocktails. Picture: Supplied.

Resistance: People in Ukraine are collecting empty bottles to make Molotov cocktails. Picture: Supplied.

The rest of the funds will go directly to Ukrainian community members such as Mrs Komendar's friend.

"I would like to help people directly as they are doing this as volunteers and using their savings," she said.

"People who live in the town know that my friend is hosting the refugees and her neighbours are bringing her food to cook."

"It is what people have in their gardens."

"There is a lot of humanitarian support in the form of clothes, food and medicine coming, but people need money for fuel and food regularly and they are not in the mainstream."

At the concert, the community will hear local speakers from Ukraine, who will share their stories.

Pianist Anna Bogachova and local schools will also give performances.

Jason Searle who has worked with ACTED will explain his experience working with them and how the donations will help.

Ribbons and raffle tickets will be on offer, as well as a $5 sausage in a bun from the Dunsborough Lions Club.

Local businesses have come on board with generous donations for the raffle and provision of equipment and services.

Attendees are encouraged to bring cash if possible.

"I feel grateful for people in this community who have come forward to help and it has opened my heart completely. It is not just a beautiful place it is full of incredible souls," Mrs Komendar's said.

With thousands of people recovering from major flooding on the east coast, Dunsborough Progress Association president Jacquie Happ said she hoped the community was understanding about their mission to help.

"We know there are Australian communities hurting right now too. We hope people will understand that we are trying to help people who are helping people," she said.

Covid safety rules will apply and the Lions Park will have a limited capacity.

Though this is an outdoor event, people will need to wear masks, follow physical distancing rules and check in with SafeWA.

Sanitising stations will be around and manual check in also available.

More information about ACTED and donations can be found at acted.org or the Red Cross.

Contributions to the local campaign can be made to the Dunsborough Progress Association who will pass the money onto Nataliya to be given directly to people in Ukraine.