June 24th, 2024

Project Sunflower assisting refugees fleeing Ukraine


By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on April 23, 2022.

Herald file photo by Dale Woodard Mykhailo Pereverza, one of the main organizers of the Ukraine Solidarity Rally, waves the Ukranian flag among a throng of singing and chanting supporters back in February outside of city hall.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

From a rally held at Lethbridge City Hall in February to stand in solidarity with Ukraine, Project Sunflower emerged to continue helping those trying to come to Canada to escape war.
Rally organizer and Project Sunflower participant, Mykhailo Pereverza has been able to take time off from work to help as many people as possible for the last couple of months.
“I wasn’t able to just sit. It was something internal inside me telling me I have to do something. It’s not that I was able to do much, but still, this is a small thing we can do here. But we try to do our best, said Pereverza during the rally in February.
Since he spoke those words, he has been able to do a lot more, with the help of multiple people who like him, cannot sit idle while people are trying to escape the war.
“We have found a lot of people who need help, and we have found a bunch of people here in Lethbridge and around who want to help and quite a few employers. Already brought one family here,” said Pereverza.
He said he raised funds through a gofundme page, to bring a family to Lethbridge who was stuck in Sri Lanka trying to escape the war.
Project Sunflower is pursuing society status to be able to help even more people in different ways, as right now they have limitations.
Another member of the Project Sunflower, Marc Woons, said they are trying to get supports in Lethbridge in place to fill some of the gaps that exist to help Ukrainians.
“Part of what we’re doing is identifying Ukrainians who are interested in coming to this area, then through some of our individual connections, we know some of the people who are willing to host, because we don’t have a society, we don’t really match people in general,” said Woons.
He said that their focus keeps changing. At the beginning they were focused on understanding the visa requirements the government of Canada has, and the new visa program that Ukrainians are able to apply for in order to come to Canada to be able to help Ukrainians abroad with the process.
“We’ve helped probably hundreds of people all over Europe and other parts of the world that applied for visas,” said Woons.
He said some have already arrived here and some have been able to arrive in other parts of the country.
Woons said he originally got involved by posting a basement suite available to host anyone escaping the war in a page that is globally reached, and a family trying to escape the war which is at the moment stuck in China, responded to his ad.
“When people started approaching me, my wife said ‘well now we have somebody, maybe we could take it down’ but I just didn’t feel like taking it down because it was kind of a door through which people could communicate,” said Woons.
For more information on how to help those escaping the war visit http://www.projectsunflower.ca
– with files from Dale Woodard

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