AUSTIN (KXAN) — Members of Austin’s Ukrainian community gathered at Lake Travis Saturday, honoring the 31st anniversary of when the country separated from the Soviet Union.
While the official holiday was Wednesday, locals carried celebrations into the weekend. Attendees came together to offer cultural dishes, handmade crafts and imported goods from Ukraine.
Austin-based nonprofit Liberty Ukraine largely led the efforts Saturday, the funds of which are used to support those affected by the war.
Tonya Levchuk, with Liberty Ukraine, said building this sense of community for Ukrainian transplants in Austin is crucial, especially refugees escaping current unrest.
“Because it was a full-scale invasion, everyone’s family were touched,” said Levchuk. “We all have friends, family members fighting on the front lines. My family in Kharkiv have been living in the basement for six months already.”
Kateryna Voinova, also with the nonprofit, said even as Russia’s invasion drags into its sixth month, Ukrainians will not stop fighting.
“We need to stay together as a community and fight,” said Voinova.
SSergei Rudakov, an Austin local, donated $10,000. He’s a native of Russia with friends from both countries. He said he was happy to help the nonprofit’s cause. His donation will be used to help refugees settle locally.
“I did not choose [to be] born Russian, but I choose to find friends and to meet people and to connect as folks. I like these people,” said Rudakov.
Liberty Ukraine will host another event in October with the same goal of creating community among Austin-area transplants. Its leaders encourage anyone to come by and join in the event.