POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) – The Art Walk in Pocatello is usually a cheerful community event but on this past Friday, it took on a sense of urgency in one of the locations.
Caring community members packed the Mind Your Body Yoga Studio to help one woman bring her mother out of the devastation in Ukraine.
They all came to buy goods and give donations to Ukraine native Lena Contor. Contor is desperately trying to raise money to bring her mother Olga back into the United States.
Before the recent conflict started, Olga was living peacefully in Zaporizhia. But with imminent danger looming, she left everything she had ever known.
“I talked to her before she left, when she was home and when she was about to leave her apartment,” Contor said. “I just watched her pace around her home.”
And hours after leaving her home, her city was attacked by Russian forces, with their nuclear power plant going up in flames.
Talking with her mother, Contor says it was eye-opening to see so many people trying to evacuate all at once.
“She said some people try to bring some clothes and they came to the train station with suitcases and they were not allowed on the train, because they were so packed,” Contor said.
Olga has since reached lviv, Ukraine’s nearest city to the Poland border…
Contor says because so many people are trying to get out all at once, her mother will have to endure a grueling train ride that will take close to a week just to reach Poland.
“She’ll be without sleep for eight days,” Contor said. “And I don’t know how she can do it. I’m just hoping she has strength from prayers and people, fasting and all kinds of miracles. So, I think she can make it. I hope she can make it.”
But her journey is far from over. Contor says her mother will have wait in Poland for several months or possibly years until she can get a visa.
It’s a tragic circumstance that contor says no one saw coming.
“In Ukraine, no one ever even had a back thought that it would happen, because people went on trips,” Contor said. “They left country. They left their kids. I have a friend who came here for just a trip and her family was there and it all happened. No one would do that if they even had one thought that it might happen. They were all 100% sure it would never happen.”
With Contor desperate for help, her local community stepped up to help out one of their own.
“People don’t just buy food,” Contor said. “They don’t take change. They don’t require you to give them change back. They give ten times more than what they’re buying and having so many people show up, it’s pretty incredible.”
If you would like to still donate to the cause, Contor says she is accepting Venmo requests. Her Venmo is @lenacontor.