Canadian starts NGO to help in Ukraine

Canadians are still trying to stay safe within the war zone of Ukraine.

Only a day after Russian rockets struck the western city of Lviv, many on the ground are calling for more help from the western world.

Meron Sembakiuk headed to the country for a brief business trip for agriculture, which soon turned into a newfound purpose of helping those caught in the middle of the war.

“I didn’t leave because the next day after signing the contract, the bombs started falling,” Sembaliuk said.

Caught in the middle of the war, the 60-year-old shifted his focus from work to a larger purpose. 

“I had previously worked in the United Nations in Afghanistan and Pakistan and I had decided that I would stay and help out,” he said. “I formed an NGO called Mama Moya.”

Sembaliuk says the program assists single mothers displaced by the war.

His team started operations from Kyiv, until the fighting hit home. A bomb exploding on the roof of his home.

“It exploded right above the house, the shrapnel landed on the roof,” he said. “We decided at that point that we had enough.”

To escape to safety, they drove west to Lviv, where on Saturday back-to-back airstrikes shook the city.

“I certainly witnessed a lot of rockets going off,” he said. “I was sitting at my desk and suddenly all of these rockets would shoot up into the sky, it was terrifying at first.”

But Sembaliuk is staying put to continue his work.

So is Canadian Christine Eliashevsky, who is also in Lviv.

“I did find out right away that three cruise missiles hit the fuel depot,” she said. “That’s very, very close to the city centre, it’s not far.”

As she shelters at home, Eliashevsky is calling for more help from the Canadian government.

“Military assistance please and tougher sanctions,” said Eliashevsky. “Immediate sanctions.”

Cassian Soltykevych of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Ottawa chapter says the biggest challenge in the Canadian community is waiting on the federal government to act to fund settlement agencies.  

Eliashevsky says Lviv alone is currently crowded with thousands of refugees.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress Ottawa Chapter tells CTV News that the federal government needs to still fund settlement agencies to allow displaced people to apply for a visa and stay in Canada with the support that they need.  

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