By Juan Baeza / New Mexico News Port
Three Albuquerque-based Ukrainian women asked the UNM community for donations for Ukrainian victims of the Russian invasion at a forum March 24.
Byrum Lindsey, a retired UNM professor of Russian language and literature, hosted the forum at Dane Smith Hall, where a little more than 100 people gathered for the event.
“We are Ukrainians, we are not Russians. We are our own nation, and we will fight,” said Larysa Castillo, a Ukrainian immigrant and nurse in Albuquerque.
Castillo said her mother who still lives in Ukraine had to be evacuated but hoped to go home soon.
Castillo said she felt the world was united with Ukraine and was grateful for all the help that has already been given but she thought more could be done.
“We need to remind them that they are not alone,” she said.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin is a bully, she said, and the world must not back down.
“We want to be a democracy,” she said. “We will not go back [to being part of Russia]. Not ever.”
Albuquerque nurse Lyudmyla Kostyk said her son has recently gone back to Ukraine to make sure their family was safe.
Kostyk thanked the crowd for showing support for Ukraine. “I believe you’re all here for a reason because you all feel the pain that Ukraine is going through right now.”
UNM student Yuliana Shevchuk Spoke passionately about how angry she is at Putin and the deaths of Ukrainian civilians.
She expressed frustration with Russian blockades of Ukrainian cities, which cut off humanitarian aid. But she praised the Ukrainian people for their vigorous defense of their nation. “We have proven that Russia is not the big bad army they claim they are,” Schevchuk said.
The women said people in Albuquerque could find out more information about local efforts and donate to the cause through a Facebook group called Ukrainian Americans of New Mexico.
Juan Baeza is a reporter for New Mexico News Port and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.