‘War is still happening:’ Orlando nonprofit hosts festival to raise funds for Ukraine

Ukrainian Festival Orlando runs this weekend at Lake Eola’s Walt Disney Ampitheater

ORLANDO, Fla. – As the world marks one year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Central Florida’s Ukrainian community are rallying in support of their homeland.

Ukraine Project Fund Inc., a nonprofit based in Orlando, is hosting a festival this weekend to pay tribute and raise funds for the nation and its people.

The organization’s co-founder Roxie Cisyk said she hopes the Ukrainian Festival Orlando will help create awareness as her people continue to fight for their country.

“Right now we just have the anger and so many families are destroyed, so many houses are destroyed,” Cisyk said. “The families are scattered all over the world. We are very thankful obviously to everybody that helps but (the war) didn’t stop.”

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She said the third annual festival will be held at the Walt Disney Ampitheater in Lake Eola from 12 to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 12 to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

“We wanted to have it in the center so people would be aware that the war is still happening,” Cisyk said. “That people are still dying, their homes are still destroyed.”

She also said the group wants to share her culture with residents and visitors alike, introducing traditions to newcomers and forging connections with fellow Ukrainians.

“People are very friendly. They’re not fighters to destroy somebody’s land but they are fighters to protect their land,” Cisyk said.

Cisyk, who left her homeland 20 years ago, still has relatives living in Ukraine and recalls hearing about the invasion from them.

“I called my relatives in Zhytomyr — it’s more central part — and she told me how she experienced all the stuff... The roads are destroyed, she said that there are plants close by that was destroyed,” Cisyk said.

The festival organizer said all the proceeds from this weekend’s event will be donated to organizations to support Ukraine’s efforts.

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