Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 24

Help
in times ofWAR
Georgians off er aid, homes, support to Ukrainians
By Cameron Whitlock
P
rior to Russia's 2014 annexation
of the Ukrainian peninsula of
Crimea, Atlanta resident Maxim
Poliashenko hadn't paid much attention
to the news out of Ukraine.
Since he immigrated to the United
States in the early 1990s, his work and his
family life were here, while his connections
to his former homeland were in the
background.
" When Russia first took Crimea and
invaded Donbas [a region in eastern
Ukraine], it was a big shock to me, "
Poliashenko says. " That was the first time
I started to really critically look at Russian
foreign policy and [Russian President
Vladimir] Putin. "
Poliashenko and his wife, Yana, who
is a Russian native, decided to take small
steps to protest the occupation, such
as boycotting Russian products. They
expected tensions to subside eventually.
But when thousands of Russian
troops poured over the Ukrainian border
last February, everything changed for
Poliashenko and the entire Ukrainian
diaspora.
" We couldn't even imagine that
Russia would send missiles to big cities
like Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa ..., " Poliashenko
says. " Especially considering that these
cities, you know, are all Russian-speaking.
So that was a big shocker. And that's when
something turned inside me. We have to
stand up now with Ukraine, and I have to
do something. "
Top: Georgians showed their support for
Ukraine at a rally in Atlanta in February.
24 Georgia Magazine January 2023
Poliashenko, who has a Ph.D. in physics and speaks more than a
dozen languages, wanted to put his skills to good use. Soon his friend Olga
Fingerman of Roswell, who is a nurse, asked him to accompany her to
Poland to help Ukrainian refugees who had crossed the border.
He leaped at the opportunity and immediately began raising funds in
April. With funds generated by a benefit concert with Smichki, an Atlantabased
Ukrainian rock band, and numerous online donations, Poliashenko
and his friends raised more than $25,000 for their first aid trip to Poland.
" We found contacts in Poland-people who provide supplies,
people who drive to Ukraine every couple of weeks, and they actually have
relationships with Ukrainian hospitals and orphanages, " Poliashenko says.
His journey eventually led inside Ukrainian territory. Fingerman
worked as a nurse in medical centers in Shehyni, Ukraine, and Przemysl,
Poland, and Poliashenko put his language skills to use as a translator. At
refugee camps and health centers inside and outside of Ukraine, the pair
saw firsthand the terrible toll of war and the uplifting spirit of humanity.
When they returned home three weeks later, they were armed with
vital knowledge to share with their community.
Building bridges
While Poliashenko's story is unique, it shares a common thread with
those of many members of Ukrainian communities across Georgia. After
the invasion in February, a massive and loosely organized grassroots
movement began to form online with the intent to raise funds and support
the people of Ukraine.
Most of these efforts centered around social media communities such
as the Ukrainian Community of Atlanta Facebook group and Atlanta for
Ukraine Telegram group. These groups played a vital role in connecting
Ukrainians living in the United States with one another as well as with those
who needed aid and with individuals and organizations that were willing to
provide it.
" I've developed this large network of people that I didn't know before
this war, " Anna Shakhnovsky of Johns Creek says. " I feel like people have
definitely come together to help. A lot of it is grassroots. And it's not a highly
organized operation. "
Shakhnovsky, who was born in Moscow, immigrated to the United
States and settled in Pennsylvania in the early 1990s. She moved to Georgia
in 2005 and met her husband, Alex, who hailed from Kyiv.
Since the start of the war, Shakhnovsky has become more and more
CAMERON WHITLOCK

Georgia Magazine - January 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - January 2023

Contents
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 4
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 5
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 6
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 7
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 8
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 9
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 10
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 11
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 12
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 13
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 14
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 15
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 16
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 17
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 18
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 19
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 20
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 21
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 22
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 22A
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 22B
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 22C
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 22D
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 23
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 24
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 25
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 26
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 27
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 28
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 29
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 30
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 31
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 32
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 33
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 34
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 35
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 36
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 37
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 38
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 39
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 40
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 41
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - 42
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - January 2023 - Cover4
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