Suzanne’s father died in 2019, and she or he stated he would by no means have believed that an impartial European nation might be invaded once more. Suzanne is well-versed within the lengthy, fraught historical past of relations between Ukraine and Russia, and stated she would not like when individuals name it a “battle” — “It was an unprovoked invasion,” she stated.
Suzanne needed to honor her heritage and educate her sons, Brick, 16, and Jack, 13, concerning the toll of struggle and what she expects will likely be their era’s duty to finally rebuild Ukraine. Two weeks in the past, Woody and Suzanne took their sons to Poland, Ukraine’s neighbor to the west, which has taken in additional than 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees because the struggle approaches the six-month mark.
They visited an orphanage, a group heart the place Ukrainians can collect and share meals, a summer season camp for displaced Ukrainian kids and a shelter for girls and youngsters who fled with nothing greater than a suitcase, usually forsaking their husbands and fathers. Younger kids are going to native colleges, regardless of a language barrier. Excessive schoolers are attending faculty on-line.
“We centered on the children assembly youngsters and speaking,” Suzanne stated. “They’ve by no means seen their group lock, inventory and barrel. The children are resilient. Mother and father are sitting within the again crying. They needed to depart with one suitcase. We went to a refuge heart, it is like a college dormitory. It is devastating. The ladies are attempting to maintain an excellent spirit for the kids. Simply think about, ‘You’ve gotten half-hour, get a suitcase and go.’ Conflict is probably the most tragic factor you may think about. And for what? All these younger women and men will die — for what? That is the toughest factor for me and my household. It’s so nonsensical.
“I have been on many journeys with my kids. I’ve by no means had them on the finish of the journey hug me and say, ‘Thanks for bringing me.’ “
Simply earlier than the household left on their journey, Brick Johnson was watching the Wimbledon Championships and heard the top-ranked ladies’s tennis participant on this planet, Iga Swiatek, speaking a couple of charity tennis exhibition she was internet hosting in her native Poland to profit Ukraine reduction. Brick and Jack attended the occasion whereas they had been in Poland, and the household made its $100,000 donation for July to United24, the fund launched by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as the primary venue for charitable donations to assist Ukraine. The funds donated by the Johnsons will likely be directed to assist kids’s hospitals in Ukraine, particularly for the procurement of pediatric synthetic lung air flow gadgets.
Suzanne Johnson stated there are additionally plans for a donation to assist the work of a missionary who has transformed a resort that went out of enterprise through the COVID-19 pandemic right into a shelter for refugee households. The Jets have opted to make the donations in month-to-month installments so the cash will be directed to probably the most pressing wants in the meanwhile.
She is hopeful that that includes the Ukrainian flag throughout a sport will appeal to the eye of the hundreds of thousands of people that will watch the sport. Suzanne fears the struggle is not going to be over by then, and as one other winter in Ukraine approaches, the wants will solely change into extra pressing.
“We now have to maintain consciousness up,” she stated. “We’re not doing something political. We’re solely specializing in the humanitarian, doing as a lot to assist them till they will return to their nation, to donate as a lot as we are able to and by our donating, put it up on our web site. It is all we are able to do.”