ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Russia’s attack on Ukraine hits home for Amanda Lamosova. She and her husband used to live in Kosice, Slovakia, a town on the border of Ukraine and Slovakia.
“It was literally like it was happening in our backyard,” Lamosova said. “I felt a really strong pull to help the people who were coming over the border to seek refuge.”
The Lamosova family now lives in St. Augustine, and from Florida, Lamosova struggled to find options to help her old neighbors.
So she reached out to friends back in Kosice and took action.
“I went, and I bought plane tickets for two weeks to Kosice, Slovakia, so that I could see firsthand what the people were doing to help the families,” she said.
Lamosova said she didn’t have a plan in mind, other than trying to find programs on the ground that she could donate to, but when she got there, things started falling into place. She found an organization that collects supplies for Ukrainians who have remained on their side of the border -- hoping to go home -- but who are in desperate need of items like toilet paper, medical supplies, toiletries and the like.
She said what she never expected was to end up in Ukraine in the middle of a war.
“I promised my husband I wouldn’t do anything crazy and then there I was in the car, driving with the people from Disaster Aid Europe into Ukraine, and I was like, ‘OK guys, I’m more than happy to translate for you all’ -- because I’m fluent in Slovak, so I translated everything going over the border for them -- ‘just don’t tell my husband until after we come back,’” Lamosova recounted, laughing.
She said the trip definitely came with risks.
“There’s four different checkpoints just to go from Slovakia to Ukraine, and there are very large guns all over that border,” Lamosova said.
But that didn’t stop her.
Once across the border, she and the others from Disaster Aid Europe helped Ukrainians get filtered water and proper medical supplies and settle into war shelters.
Lamosova, a mother of three small children, said she could see herself in the faces of those she was helping.
“For me to see these mothers, I mean, they’re incredibly strong,” she said. “To put myself in that place of looking at my children in the refugee center, not knowing if their dad is coming home and not knowing if we will even have a home to go back to. That really hit me.”
She said since she’s been back from her 12-day trip, she’s been working with organizations in the states to raise awareness about what she saw firsthand and what she learned about the needs of the people enduring the war. She’s also been working to raise funds to help families in Ukraine.