Event fundraising

Ukrainian evacuee serves home cooking at charity event

Japan has accepted more than 800 evacuees from Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion. Many have struggled to adjust to life in Japan, but charity events for their country give them a sense of community.

Hundreds of people attended a fundraiser held in Komae City in western Tokyo.

Maria Dovbash arrived in Komae last March. Her hometown in Ukraine faced the threat of an imminent attack and she had to flee with next to nothing.

She had trouble communicating at first, unable to speak Japanese or English. She therefore turned to a language that everyone can understand: cooking. She taught her new neighbors how to make Ukrainian borscht.

They served 500 cups of soup at Saturday’s event. Maria thanked the participants in Japanese.

Maria’s daughter Nataliia worried that her mother would feel lonely in Tokyo, so she was relieved to see her having fun at the event.

“She is happy to be a part of the company,” Nataliia said, adding that her mother will take part in more opportunities to communicate with residents in the future.

Maria hopes that her stay in Japan will be short-lived and that she will soon be able to return to Ukraine. But in the meantime, communities like Komae are doing their best to make her and other Ukrainian evacuees feel at home.