Olga Martynovska, a Ukrainian MasterChef champion who escaped to Prague due to Russia's invasion, prepared borsch and other traditional meals to collect donations for people stranded back home
Ukrainian MasterChef winner Olga Martynovska, who fled to Prague with her 6-year-old daughter to escape Russia's invasion, cooked up borsch and other traditional dishes on Saturday to raise funds for those trapped back home.
At a stand flying the Ukrainian flag at a popular farmer's market along the city's Vltava river, Martynovska and fellow refugees dished up delicacies including poppy seed cakes, pierogies and home-made sweets.
"I'm doing my job but it's not because I want to do it in front of the river here in Prague," said Martynovska, next to a sign reading "Eat Borsch, Save Ukraine."
"We collect the money in different way to buy the...necessary medicines for Ukrainians who stay in hot points and really need it."
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, around 300,000 refugees have fled to the Czech Republic, joining a pre-war Ukrainian community of nearly 200,000. Nearly 3.8 million people have fled Ukraine since the outbreak of war, most of them heading to Poland, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.
Martynovska, who also served as a MasterChef judge after her victory, said she was fortunate to find safety with friends in Prague and she wanted to help those left behind in Ukraine.
On a sunny morning, customers standing in line said they were happy to splash out on a bowl of borsch to support refugees and others affected by the war.
"I want to support Ukraine because I have a lot of friends from Ukraine," said Xenie Harash.
"Also I love borsch and I gladly support the Ukrainian army because I think it protects our world and Europe."