As her husband, President Volodymyr Zelensky, calls on the nations of the world to arm Ukraine, Olena Zelenska calls for ambulances.
Ms Zelenska, who has recently become a very visible advocate for humanitarian causes in her country, raised more than $5 million in just over a week to help replenish the country’s supply of ambulances. The campaign, that is still collecting donations, has raised enough funds to buy almost 50 ambulances, although Ms. Zelenska estimated that 400 vehicles are needed.
In an interview with a Ukrainian television network on Saturday, Ms. Zelenska encouraged more donations, however small.
“Any amount is important now,” he said. He added: “I am grateful to everyone who participated in our initiative.”
While his frequent video speeches have made Mr Zelensky a household name since the Russian invasion began in February, the first lady has increasingly been in the spotlight in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, he made a rare appearance in Washington to address Congress, calling for more weapons to defend against Russia. Highlighting the human toll of war, Ms Zelenska showed photographs of children who had lost parents or limbs in the attacks.
She has also used her image outside the diplomatic sphere: Last week, Ms. Zelenska appeared on the cover of Vogue for an article titled “Portrait of Bravery.”
The ambulance initiative was launched during the First Ladies and Gentlemen Summit hosted by Ms Zelenska on July 23 to discuss Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction.
Each ambulance costs about $100,000 and is equipped with oxygen tanks, defibrillators, electrocardiographs, defibrillators and mechanical ventilators, according to United24, the public charity collecting the donations. They can also be driven off-road, a critical function in wartime conditions.
Donations have been received from 51 countries, led by contributions from Ukraine, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Israel, according to Ms. Zelenska.