SARASOTA, FL — A Sarasota woman is heading overseas again over the 4th of July holiday to once again help refugees and others impacted by the Russia-Ukraine war after she traveled to Poland and Ukraine for more than a month in the spring.
Adelia Moyano, a Brazilian immigrant, spent 40 days in Poland and later in Ukraine in March and April, helping wherever she could.
She did everything from driving refugees to safety — most to the Polish border, but some to Romania, a 10-hour drive — to delivering food and other supplies to those who remained in the war-torn country, she told Patch.
Now she’s raising money to bring back more supplies to help Ukrainians under siege. In addition to accepting donations through GoFundMe, she’s also looking for specific medical supplies such as chest drains, surgical staplers and tracheotomy kits.
“My goal is to focus on health care providers on the front lines (AKA, people that don’t touch guns, but save civilians’ and soldiers’ lives in the middle of shooting and heavy shelling), medical supplies and food to the small villages that are literally starving,” Moyano said on Facebook.
She added, “Some people on the front line don’t even have helmets, or bulletproof vests! The population in villages around hot areas/big cities have practically triplicated overnight, and these places don’t have the capacity to maintain all these people. Fuel is very expensive, and when you can afford it, there is hardly any available, so these people are starving.”
When Moyano first landed in Europe, she focused her relief efforts on the refugees finding their way into Poland and promised herself that she would stay out of Ukraine to remain safe. Then a refugee driver approached her about a woman he was scheduled to pick up.
“She was abused by her husband, so she didn’t feel comfortable with only a man in the car. She wanted a woman in the car,” she said. “And I will never say ‘no’ to that. So I had to go to Ukraine.”
She had already been considering going into Ukraine after hearing from many volunteers that they felt safe there, despite the war and bombings.
After that trip, Moyano mostly felt safe driving in and out of the countries. Though she sometimes heard air raid signals and felt afraid, “Mostly felt like I was in the right place, which is so weird,” she said. “I was afraid, of course, but I was more calm than I thought and felt like this is where I should be right now.”
As she drove around Ukraine, she saw more neighborhoods and communities intact than she saw areas that were bombed, and these were usually on the outskirts of cities with fewer people.
During her time in Poland and Ukraine, she also didn’t let the language barrier hinder her. Portuguese is her native language, but she also speaks English fluently. Neither language is spoken widely in Ukraine, so she latched onto any person she met who spoke English, taking down contact information, and also relied on Google to translate for her.
“Everything is so hard because I don’t speak the language. So I can’t speak or explain things to anybody,” Moyano said.
In the middle of grocery stores, she’d call up acquaintances for help translating food labels and recalled using Google Translate to communicate with a pharmacist about bringing needed medications into Ukraine.
In the weeks since she gotten back to Sarasota, she’s been eager to return to Ukraine. After her month assisting refugees there, she has “an understanding that few people have, and I can help Ukraine more effectively this time,” she wrote on her GoFundMe page.
GoFundMe is a Patch promotional partner.