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Chilliwack woman on mission of mercy to Ukraine

Mary Martz of Chilliwack decided she had to fly home to Ukraine this week despite the unrest. - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS
Mary Martz of Chilliwack decided she had to fly home to Ukraine this week despite the unrest.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

Mary Martz of Chilliwack is forging ahead with a mission of mercy to conflict-torn Ukraine.

"We're hoping things will stabilize," she said before getting on a plane Wednesday.

Foreign Affairs officials are advising Canadians against all travel to the part of Ukraine known as Crimea.

Martz, a translation volunteer with Hungry for Life, is flying to Ukraine with a friend to aid an orphanage that is about to run out of food, as well as visiting family and friends.

Martz said she has several siblings and her parents to check on, as well as helping some struggling elders in the community who have not been receiving their pensions.

The situation in Ukraine gained the worldwide attention last month after Russian Federation's military forces invaded and occupied key Ukrainian installations, with bloody skirmishes that saw protesters killed.

Canada views the federation's actions as a "violation of international law" and responded with a statement from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada that said:

"Canada has been among the most vocal in the international community in expressing our disapproval over democratic back-sliding and repression in Ukraine. We remain very concerned about the situation in Ukraine and continue to monitor developments with considerable interest."

The government message continued: "Canada stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine in their fight for a free and democratic Ukraine."

Martz said she plans to lay flowers at the memorial site in Kyiv "where so many lost their life fighting for freedom," and wants to see the luxurious digs of the former president.

But she will be careful to avoid conflict of any kind at all costs.

"I am flying into the west part of Ukraine," Martz told the Progress. "I am definitely not flying to the eastern section at this point. It's not safe. I do have a backup plan if things get out of control."

She's planning to stay 18 days, but will cut things short if need be.

"It's my mom's birthday while I'm there but she doesn't know I'm coming, so it will be a surprise."

It was an orphanage in Priazovskoje, a small town in Ukraine, that Hungry for Life had supported last winter with aid for food and electricity.

"I found out they had run out of funds by December and only had a few days of food left," she said.

The unrest and violence gave Martz pause, and she hesitated, wondering if she should postpone the trip for a month or so, to see if the situation would stabilize in time.

But after her recent call to the orphanage, she decided she had to go as planned.

Martz had to work to reassure her daughter, who was still feeling nervous the day she was set to fly.

"There are still a lot of unknowns. The Russian forces are still there, but I don't think anyone can predict what Putin or the other governments of the world will do. I'm hoping the world will help Ukraine."

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

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