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SLO Women’s March raises money for Ukraine amid Russian invasion

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Courtesy: Women's March SLO
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Hundreds gather at a previous San Luis Obispo Women's March.

As Russia’s invasion continues, anti-war activists around the world are rallying behind Ukraine. Even across Russia, people are protesting despite ongoing arrests.

Now Women’s March SLO is backing Ukraine as the rally celebrate five years of annual activism for rights and equity on March 5.

“We decided that we will include a call for solidarity with Ukraine — a call for peace and a peaceful solution,” said Women's March SLO Co-Founder Andrea Chmelik.

Chmelik is originally from Slovakia, a country that borders Ukraine. Slovakia is currently taking in thousands of refugees and supporting Ukraine’s military.

“We feel that it is impossible to ignore it and not address it when we are already holding a rally for justice and for a positive and just future,” Chmelik said.

Slovakia has its own history with Soviet forces, being under occupation for two decades until the Iron Curtain fell and Slovakians began rebuilding the country in 1989.

Chmelik said that’s all a part of her own history and she felt the influence of the Russian regime growing up in Slovakia. She said it’s hard not to draw parallels right now.

“Seeing this happening at this time to Ukraine, I feel helplessness for them," Chmelik said. "I know that people in Czechoslovakia were hoping for help and I feel horror and stress seeing what is happening there to people.”

Women’s March SLO is fundraising for a group called People in Need. It’s a Slovakia-based organization helping those escaping the war. The group has been helping Ukraine since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea.

Chmelik said this attack on Ukraine is a reminder of the need to continue fighting for democracy everywhere and stay engaged.

“While we are hoping to help people in Ukraine, we also need to pay very close attention to what is happening in our own community,” Chmelik said.

The SLO Women's March will take place at Mitchell Park from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 5.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020 and now reports daily for KCBX News. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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