A group of former refugees led by a White Rock man has raised more than $100,000 for humanitarian relief in Ukraine.
Tony Vuu said last week he had a “gut feeling” that response to a fundraising campaign that launched around two weeks ago would be positive – in its first week, nearly $60,000 was donated online, and the total surpassed $86,000 by Tuesday morning (March 29).
A banquet in Vancouver on Friday added $40,000 to the cache.
“Within our group, we want it to be $200,000,” Vuu said last week.
Vuu, who has called the waterfront city home for the past two years, was moved to organize a fundraiser after watching the horrors that are unfolding during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I feel like I’m blessed to live a peaceful life. I look at people in Ukraine and I feel like… there are two different pictures, black and white,” he explained. “That’s the reason I feel like I have to do something. Stand up and do something to help them.”
Vuu, who fled Vietnam as a child, said the idea was strongly supported by the other members of his group who have similar “terrible” memories and now call Vancouver and Surrey home. As former refugees themselves, “everyone within our community, they really like to get involved,” he said.
“I’ve done a lot of charity work, but I’ve never seen the momentum so strong. It’s so strong this time.”
He emphasized that the fundraiser would not be possible without everyone in the group pitching in.
“I feel so proud, they’re the main force behind me,” he said.
The March 25 charity banquet in Vancouver was a highlight of the campaign. Featuring a silent auction, live music and raffle, the sold-out affair took place at the Pink Pearl Seafood Restaurant in Vancouver.
There is still time to hit the $200,000 mark, as the fundraising campaign is continuing through April. Anyone wishing to contribute may donate online at vietbcassociations.ca
Proceeds will be donated to the Canadian branch of the UNHCR, The Refugee Agency – the same agency that provided aid to Vuu’s group “when we were most in need,” an explanation on the website explains.
“We feel it is our duty now to fundraise and assist UNHCR in their efforts to give Ukrainians who need an urgent lifeline, give urgent medical aid, provide emergency relief and evacuation transport and bring food and shelter to those displaced civilians.”
Vuu said the support received so far has been uplifting.
“We won’t feel alone anymore,” he said.
“I feel like we’re working hard, but you feel like a hidden force (is pushing) us from behind.”
Fundraising proceeds are to be presented to the UNHCR on April 30, which is the 47th anniversary of South Vietnam’s surrender.
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