At 12:30 p.m. on April 8, Fort Worth resident Nataliya Krasovska-Cabe, 47, left her home to catch a flight to Poland. With her are seven suitcases packed with medical supplies, uniforms and emergency kits for soldiers and civilians still on the front lines as the war in Ukraine enters its seventh week.
This is her second trip in the past three weeks, all paid out of pocket.“I am a person who helps everybody. You call in the night, say you need help, I will be there. This is what kind of person I am,” the Ukrainian-born American said.“I’m exhausted, I’m tired. But if not me, who can help my family? Who can help Ukraine?”
Outside of her day job providing cleaning services, Krasovska-Cabe volunteers within the local Ukrainian and Russian-speaking communities of Dallas-Fort Worth. Her commitment to those with whom she shares a cultural connection has earned her the nickname of Dallas’ Mother Theresa in the local Russian newspaper Dallas Telegraph.
With Russia continuing to wage war on Ukraine, the country has been requesting help from the international community to push back the Russian offensive. Krasovska-Cabe’s donations, supplied by various members of the community, will be distributed across four major Ukrainian cities: Lviv, Dnipro, Kyiv and Odessa.
Many donations from major companies are not making it to soldiers and civilians, which is why Krasovska-Cabe decided to contribute to the efforts in her own way, she said.
Krasovska-Cabe shared a list of needed items on her Facebook page — trauma kits, uniforms, medical survival kits and more. A Venmo account also has been set up to collect monetary funds to cover the travel fees.
Nataliia Hays, another Ukrainian volunteer who lives in Fort Worth, is collecting needed supplies as well — some of which are transported by Krasovska-Cabe to Poland. The donations are delivered by hand through local contacts.
“Specifically to our cities, it was hard to deliver any aid because it’s a red zone, it’s active, shooting and bombing still going,” the Kharkiv native said. “So we decided that people started going with suitcases to Poland and delivering hand to hand to our volunteers. Our volunteers are basically our relatives — our brothers, cousins, Nataliya’s sons, my classmates.”
Working with the Ukrainian Cultural Club of Dallas, local churches and individuals, Hays said they have been able to send five to 10 people every week from across the country with supplies to Poland.
How to help:
- Nataliya Krasovska-Cabe has put together a list on Amazon of needed supplies for soldiers and those on the front lines in Ukraine to take to them through Poland. You can purchase those supplies here.
- A Venmo account has been set up to help cover the airfare costs and fees to travel to Poland. You can find the link to the account here.
- Shop online at Ukie Style, a Ukrainian embroidery store in Dallas. All proceeds will go towards supporting efforts in Ukraine. The online store can be found here.
- The Ukrainian Cultural Club of Dallas shares donation events throughout the metroplex on their Facebook page, which can be found here.
“All my life, I was there. I moved to Texas 12 years ago so right now, I can’t just stay and watch how my country is being destroyed, my city,” Hays said. “Kharkiv is right on the border with Russia. So for 44 days in a row, they shoot and kill our people — nonstop. This is why we’ll never stop (collecting donations) and we’ll find any help.”
While Krasovska-Cabe is working with the metroplex’s Russian-speaking diaspora to aid Ukrainians, the dangers of the war hit close to home. As a mother of two sons also, she is working to bring her kids and their families to Texas for safety. But denied visa requests are limiting her options.
“It’s very stressful. And I don’t know why so many people have declined visas,” she said. “We’re trying (every legal avenue). I don’t want my family to cross the border in Mexico.”
Both her sons — Dmytro and Denys — are American citizens. But their wife and fiancé are not. One of the sons left for Ukraine prior to the Feb. 24 invasion to help his wife with her visa application and decided to stay with her when she could not leave with him. The other flew out in March to pick up his fiancé for a visa interview and has remained as well.
Krasovska-Cabe has spent thousands of dollars flying out multiple times to Frankfurt, Germany — the primary processing location for visas for residents of Ukraine set by the U.S. Department of State since the invasion— over the past few weeks in an attempt to get visas approved for her daughter-in-law and future daughter-in-law.
She remains unsuccessful.“I’m very exhausted. I cannot see my face in the mirror because it’s not me right now. It’s a different person. In the past month, I’ve become five years older,” the mother of two said.“Every night, I’m waiting for a message ‘Mom, we’re OK.’ When my boys don’t answer the phone, I start screaming. And later, thank God they call me back saying ‘Mama, we don’t have connection, Internet’s not good.’ For me, I pray every night, every day, every minute for my family, my boys.”
Krasovska-Cabe is expected to fly back to Fort Worth on April 11. She will return to Ukraine again soon with more donations and will continue to find a way to bring her family to Fort Worth.
“Ukraine, it’s our country where we grew up. My mom is crying every day because she misses her house,” she said. “People who apply for B-1, B-2 visas and have family here — we don’t need anything from the government. We can support our family. We want our family safe.”
Fort Worth Report fellow Sandra Sadek may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.