Monterey High student to hold rally for Ukraine
MONTEREY — Just over three weeks ago, Monterey High School senior Marko Danchak was walking home from a lacrosse game when news broke of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With his Ukrainian relatives still living in the western city of Lviv, Danchak was at a loss for words – and control.
So it went local.
On Saturday, with the help of fellow Monterey Higher Jessica Badiny, Danchak is organizing a rally in support of Ukraine at Window on the Bay Beach, 717 Del Monte Ave. Starting at 2 p.m., the rally will focus on community understanding and support. for the conflict. Danchak plans to speak out against the war, circulate petitions for the community to sign, promote websites accepting donations for refugees and the Ukrainian military, and clarify misinformation reported on social media.
It was the least Danchak could do, he remarked, but the most he thought possible was to be oceans away from the fight.
“It hurts because you really can’t do anything,” Danchak said. “You’re not here. The only thing you can really do is talk about what’s going on. … I told my mom that if we were in Ukraine right now, I would volunteer, and I think my parents would be volunteering right next to me. But if I can’t be there, I can’t sit here and watch this all unfold without doing my part. I think a gathering is the smallest something I can do to empower my family and other local Ukrainians to let people know that this is my, our reality.
As Russian attacks escalate and spread to civilian targets across Ukraine, Danchak said his friends and family in Lviv were helping refugees cross the Polish border less than 80 kilometers away. According to the United Nations, more than 3 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24. Nearly 2 million others are internally displaced, according to UN estimates, including 200,000 in Lviv.
Since the start of the war, Danchak’s relatives have taken a humanitarian approach to their place in the violence – bringing supplies to and from the Polish border, preparing meals for those uprooted from their homes and even providing medical care. medical assistance to anyone injured while seeking refuge. Their relentless commitment to contributing is what motivated Danchak to do the same here in Monterey.
“They were really happy to hear that I was doing something,” said Danchak, who communicates with his family in Ukraine several times a day. “They’re doing their part, and I’m trying to do mine.”
Although he is separated from Lviv, where Danchak usually travels each year, he said the support of his network of friends at Monterey High and throughout Monterey County as a whole has made it easier to manage the distance.
This local compassion became undeniably clear to Danchak as he began to prepare for Saturday’s rally. In addition to supporting Danchak’s idea from the start, his friends actively engaged in the planning process.
“There were days when my friends and sometimes other people around me showed up to make posters for the rally,” Danchak said. “It meant a lot. You feel the support around school and your peers, and it’s comforting to know that the people around you are helping you through this difficult process, even if they can’t really relate directly.
In this way, local activism provided a degree of comfort and distraction from fear. But for Danchak, the sentiment is never too far off — it can’t be, he said.
“It’s hard to think about it. … You watch what is happening, and you are speechless. You just cry.