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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


Ukraine gets SA-manufactured protective kits worth R1.1 million

The Angel Network founder Glynne Wolman said the people of South Africa had big hearts.


An entrepreneur, a local organisation and a businessman handed over protective kits worth R1.1 million to Ukraine as a symbol of friendship and humanitarian relief.

Social entrepreneur Howard Sackstein, who started the campaign, said the people of South Africa could not stand by and ignore the plight of innocent civilians caught in the fighting after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“We realised that civilians were left trapped in bombed and smouldering buildings and Ukrainian firefighters just did not have sufficient fire suits to rescue them,” said Sackstein.

Sackstein teamed up with The Angel Network and fire fighting company Marcé, with donations streaming in from as far as the Democratic Republic of Congo and London.

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Yesterday, 60 fire-fighting kits with boots and gloves were handed over to Ukraine ambassador Liubov Abravitova to be shipped to Ukraine over the weekend.

Sackstein said it would have been easier, faster and cheaper to buy the equipment in Europe and ship it to Ukraine, but that would have diluted the message.

‘It’s the least we could do’

“We are proud South Africans, so we wanted to make sure that the suits were manufactured in South Africa, by South Africans, creating South African jobs with South African money. We wanted this to be a personal gesture from the people of South Africa with love to the people of Ukraine,” he said.

Tim Hutchinson, who coordinated the donations, said it was important to help make a difference. It was a cause close to his heart because he remembered his family housing refugee families growing up in Zambia.

“It’s the least we could do.”

The Angel Network founder Glynne Wolman said the people of South Africa had big hearts.

“We were delighted to partner with ordinary South Africans who were determined and called on local civilians’ compassion and empathy to be heard across the oceans. This is the true spirit of ubuntu: caring for each other, caring for strangers and making sure that the heart of the people of South Africa should be a moral pulse for the world,” she said.

Ambassador Abravitova said they were overwhelmed by the outpouring of concern, love and empathy from the people of South Africa.

“We are sensitive towards asking South Africans for assistance because after the Covid pandemic, both countries faced economic and social problems,” she said.

“It is clear that South Africans equate their struggle for freedom with our struggle for independence and freedom in the face of the brutal Russian invasion of our country.”

Abravitova said Ukraine appreciated that the people of South Africa share their values and stand for morality and justice. “Ukraine was at the forefront of the struggle for freedom in South Africa.

“Many of the ANC’s liberation fighters were trained and educated in Ukraine and we are so grateful that South Africans have felt moved to help us during our time of need,” she said.

– marizkac@citizen.co.za

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