Nataliya Bobrovnyk sincerely believes that good will prevail over evil.
The native Ukrainian, who has lived with her family on Mercer Island for the last eight years or so, stressed that if this is to occur, communities need to band together and help those residing in the country ravaged by war since the Russian invasion in February.
Sporting a bracelet on her right wrist with blue and gold ribbons intertwined that signify the national colors of her home country, she said on a recent afternoon that peace for Ukraine lies in people’s hearts, actions and donations.
Three days earlier, Bobrovnyk shared a similar message while addressing a crowd of about 300 people at the Rotary Club of Mercer Island’s International Dance for Peace at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center to raise funds for worldwide international grants and humanitarian aid, including assistance for Ukraine through its “1,000 Hearts for Peace in Ukraine” fundraiser.
“Here, Dance for Peace and Dance for Ukraine was such an amazing event for us as a community to come together, to talk about this a little bit and to really give back and help similar communities (in Ukraine),” said Bobrovnyk, whose family has helped send first-aid and care packages through the Ukrainian Association of Washington State.
At the Sept. 18 event, Bobrovnyk’s family met other Ukrainians — including Alex Grocott and her family — for the first time and exchanged stories in their native language about helping those desperately in need on their home soil. She learned of the good things that people are doing by hosting recently arrived Ukrainian refugees on the Island. Local resident Rouslana Yaroslavsky is currently volunteering with the Coordination Council for Refugees and helping families who have come to the Island.
About eight years ago, Bobrovnyk and her husband and two children moved to the Island from British Columbia, Canada, where they immigrated to from Ukraine some 23 years ago. The couple immigrated because it was looking for new experiences and later headed toward the Seattle area because of technology job opportunities.
Mercer Island was the ideal fit for the Bobrovnyks.
“Being here because of the strong community, that’s definitely a reason. That was the biggest for us, a nice and amazing community. It’s a vibrant community,” said Bobrovnyk, who glanced through her dark sunglasses on a recent sunny day and noted that one of her children has graduated from college and the other attends middle school on the Island.
As Bobrovnyk gazes up at the peaceful and blue sky, she knows that it doesn’t appear the same in Ukraine. She had a similar eerie feeling while sitting on her deck and pondering what to say later to the crowd at the Dance for Peace event.
She didn’t know how to explain the horror of the war in Ukraine.
“I look around and I realize it’s extremely hard for me to imagine something that would be drastically different,” she said. “The sky is not friendly, it’s not peaceful. You hide in your basement to survive. You actually huddle with your friends, family, neighbors somewhere in the shelter. You don’t know if you will have enough food for everybody tomorrow, you don’t know if you’ll survive this night, the next night, the next day. You don’t know if you’ll have medicine if anybody gets sick and so on.”
Bobrovnyk said she can’t comprehend any war, particularly one in Ukraine, where people from her homeland are being killed, tortured and injured daily. She shakes her head when thinking about children losing their lives in the war.
“You have to believe in something good and you have to help, and I guess that’s how you feel a little better because at least you are doing something to help with this unimaginable horror,” said Bobrovnyk, adding that Ukrainians will fight for their families and communities, for peace, independence, the country, for democracy — for everything.
She appreciates Mercer Islanders being there for Ukraine and is privileged to be a part of the community.