Ukraine-Russia war: Refugees from war-torn country mark Independence Day in Philadelphia region

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — August 24th was the Independence Day of Ukraine. The day was celebrated by numerous Ukraine-based organizations in Philadelphia and those helping refugees settle here as the Russian invasion continues there.

At the KleinLife Center in Northeast Philadelphia, Ukraine’s independence was celebrated with a performance by 45 children who are now in town. They were visibly happy on stage.

But it has been a long, arduous journey as they all came from war-torn Ukraine a few months ago.

Since their arrival, they have been received at KleinLife and their summer camp free of charge.

But getting to the point of a celebration wasn’t easy.

“Both they and their mothers cried for the first few days. Unfortunately, many of them witnessed many things that children should not witness,” said Andre Krug, President of KleinLife.

Officials there say they worked hard to help the children and their families who were in the crowd feel welcome in Philadelphia.

“We have a psychologist on the team who has run the program specifically for children. I think we’re kind of getting back to normal,” Krug said.

SEE ALSO: 22 dead in Ukraine’s Independence Day attack

Action News also spoke to Iryna Mazur, the Honorary Consulate of Ukraine in Philadelphia.

“The pain they have endured because of this war is unbelievable. I don’t wish any child or human being to feel what they did,” Mazur said.

Ukrainian Independence Day was also celebrated with a prayer service at the Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center in Jenkintown.

“This is a terrible, terrible attack on a free nation and Russia must be stopped,” said Natalie Firko, the president of the Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center.

At the United Ukraine American Relief Committee on Cottman Avenue, officials say donations are still badly needed.

“They need hygiene items, sleeping bags, diapers for the children and very old people. Even if it stops tomorrow, there will be a remodeling going on there. It will be years before the country can stand on its feet,” said Motrya Watters, executive director of the United Ukraine American Relief Committee.

Back in Ukraine, Russian forces launched a rocket attack on a train station that killed 22 people, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday after days of warning Moscow could attempt “something particularly cruel” this week.

The deadly attack took place in Chaplyne, a town of about 3,500 people in the central Dnepropetrovsk region, Ukrainian news agencies quoted Zelenskyy as telling the UN Security Council via video. The President’s Office also reported that an 11-year-old child was killed by rocket fire earlier in the day in the settlement.

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