Kansas-linked Ukrainian asks for help for her homeland

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For Ukrainians right now, survival is the only thought on their minds. Lina Dotsenko from Kyiv is no exception.

Dotsenko, who has worked with agricultural producers in Kansas for more than a decade, worries not only about her livelihood, but about the livelihood of her country as she knows it.

“As of February 24, we have been living in a whole new reality that we could never even imagine in the worst of dreams,” Dotsenko wrote in an email. “That reality includes driving under missiles, waking up in the night and running around in the basement due to air raid scares, losing friends who have gone to military divisions.”

Dotsenko, who holds a doctorate, was educated in Ukraine and the United States. She helps run a business that helps Ukrainian farmers understand farming methods, marketing and policy.

Passion for his country from Ukraine and its inhabitants

Dotsenko made several trips to Kansas, bringing delegations of farmers, agricultural contractors and deputies to the Sunflower State.

“She is very passionate about Ukraine; their whole business has been built on building Ukraine’s economy, improving trade, improving the ability of Ukrainian agriculture to feed people,” said Fred Vocasek, senior laboratory agronomist for ServiTech in Dodge City, who has worked with Dotsenko for 10 years. “Ukraine is the breadbasket of this region. They were trying to build on that and be able to be a bigger breadbasket.”

On their last trip, in November, the Ukrainian delegation learned about water conservation and how to distribute water fairly.

But those plans are currently on hold.

Continued: ‘So many explosions’: Ukrainian immigrant in Hutchinson fears for family, friends and homeland

live in fear during the Russian invasion

“We are doing our best to survive and to help the army,” Dotsenko said. “We don’t have time to think about agriculture when people have been killed.”

Dotsenko, along with others, move in and out of safe places as the war rages on. She asks for help for her country. She and others are afraid of a nuclear attack.

“Right now, our lives depend on two pillars: the Ukrainian military and the actions of the global coalition,” she said. “NATO and the United States must act immediately to provide Ukraine with air defense systems capable of firing any Russian missile capable of carrying nuclear weapons and attacking us.”

“It is essential to cover the Ukrainian skies against a nuclear strike.”

Mike Bergmeier of ShieldAg Equipment in South Hutchinson, who has also done business in Ukraine, receives messages from people he knows. Because of the war, the messages are sporadic.

“Many join the militia. They have never handled a weapon before, but they are armed and ready to defend their country,” Bergmeier said. “Ukraine will win because the people care about their homeland.”

For Dotsenko, the need for help is immediate.

“Ukraine needs strong military assistance,” she said. “A bloody dictatorship has attacked a free and democratic state.”

Dotsenko urges Americans to call their representatives to Congress. Vocasek also encourages people to make their thoughts known.

“We can reach out to our lawmakers and certainly encourage them,” Vocasek said. “They are going to need military and humanitarian aid.”

Bergmeier and Vocasek wish they could do more.

“They are friends,” Vocasek said. “And it’s like any friend that’s going through a tough time. Because of geography, you just can’t help them. It’s frustrating.”

Dotsenko said she plans to stay in Ukraine. She said the only way to stop Russia is for others to join in and help.

“We are doing our best to survive,” she said. We are “peaceful, free, democratic and civilized”.

Continued: Ukrainian leaders visit Kansas to learn about agricultural and irrigation practices

What can people do to help Ukrainians?

There are many legitimate organizations people can donate to, said Denise Groene, Kansas director of the Better Business Bureau.

First, Groene said, avoid any kind of crowdsourcing unless you know the individuals personally.

“You just don’t know who created this site,” she said.

Also, unless the charity has been in the area and is able to navigate the area, they may not be able to help others.

“A major red flag,” she said, is when the organization says 100% raised goes to help. “Even though they are non-profit, these organizations still have overhead.”

Is it worth helping a local clothing or food drive?

Getting items into Ukraine in a timely manner is difficult. The BBB recommends that people work with humanitarian organizations already established in this area. The new organizations, although well-meaning, might not understand the proper channels to get food, shelter, and clothing to the right places.

The BBB has a list of charities on its Give.org site, including the reliability of each organization. On the site is a list of organizations helping in Ukraine. These organizations meet BBB accountability standards.

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