While her husband, President Volodymyr Zelensky, calls on the countries of the world to supply Ukraine with weapons, Olena Zelenskaya asks for ambulances.
Ms Zelenskaya, who has recently become a prominent supporter of humanitarian causes in her country, has raised more than $5 million in just over a week to help restock the country’s ambulances. The campaign that still collecting donations has raised enough funds to buy nearly 50 ambulances, although Ms. Zelenskaya estimates 400 are needed.
In an interview on Ukrainian TV on Saturday, Ms. Zelenskaya called for more donations, no matter how small.
“Any amount matters now,” she said. She added: “I am grateful to everyone who joins our initiative.”
While his frequent video messages have made Mr. Zelenskiy a familiar face since the start of the Russian invasion in February, the first lady has increasingly come under the spotlight in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, she made a rare appearance in Washington to appeal to Congress for more weapons to defend against Russia. Emphasizing the human cost of the war, Ms. Zelenskaya showed photographs of children who had lost their parents or limbs as a result of terrorist attacks.
She has also used her image outside of the diplomatic realm: Last week, Ms. Zelenskaya appeared on the cover of Vogue for an article titled “A Portrait of Courage.”
The ambulance initiative began during the First Ladies and Gentlemen’s Summit hosted by Ms Zelenska on July 23 to discuss the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine.
Each ambulance costs about $100,000 and is equipped with oxygen tanks, defibrillators, electrocardiographs, heart monitors and ventilators, according to United24, a public charity that collects donations. They can also be driven off-road, which is very important in wartime conditions.
According to Ms. Zelenskaya, donations were received from 51 countries, primarily from Ukraine, the US, Germany, the UK and Israel.