Dear Friends, I can’t speak for everyone, but so many people I know are absolutely sickened by what is happening in Ukraine! We are all shocked and mortified at the articles and images we are seeing in our newspapers and on TV. What’s happening there is surreal and almost unimaginable - especially in this day and age. We’re all asking, “how can this be happening”? . However, after meeting a local neighbor in Leucadia name Katya (pictured below) who is from the Kherson region in Ukraine, I can tell you, it’s worse than we realize. I’ve gotten to know her and her story, and its made me want to share what I’ve learned and step up to try and help.
Katya was born and raised in Kherson (which was just illegally “annexed” by Russia) and left 6 years ago when she met a man named Kurt Sonderegger who was visiting Ukraine on a business trip. She was working as his English translator and they soon fell in love, got married and Katya moved to California to start a new life with him. After they married, she became a local Encinitas resident, had two beautiful young children, and was for the most part, living a wonderful life here in North County. Like all of us, she simply wanted to take care of her family and experience the joys of life. Then Russia attacked her home country and everything changed! Her family and friends in Kherson (including her parents and grandmother) were forced to deal with the invasion and make many hard choices. Do we stay, do we flee, can we flee, where will we go, what will happen to our lives, what do we do. Meanwhile for Katya, it became an obsession to help her family and friends even though she was so far away. Every day she is on-line, texting and using social media to help people survive this nightmare in her hometown. The stories she has shared with me are beyond sad, heroic and simply unfathomable.
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We thank you for your big hearts and support.