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Smith: Ukrainians have so very little, yet give

This is one reason the crisis in Ukraine cuts deeply into Windsor's Martha Adelle Dunlop and Fred Ptucha of Santa Rosa.

They've been in Kiev and Santa Rosa's sister city of Cherkasy, and they found that the people, generous to a fault, have yearned terribly long to be free of corruption and tyranny.

Dunlop is a post-retirement Peace Corps volunteer who traveled to Ukraine on a health mission in 1992, just after it became independent with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Before she went she was warned not to admire anything a Ukrainian owns — because he or she is likely to give it to you.

It's true. Dunlop, who has released a book on her travels, "I Was There ... When," was struck by how poor, kind and generous the Ukrainian people were.

"I was happy they were breaking away" from the Soviet Union, she said. More than 20 years later, it pains her that they're caught in this current staredown.

Ptucha has visited Ukraine as the prime mover behind Santa Rosa's sister-city kinship with Cherkasy. He remembers innocently telling a woman there that the beautiful stone in her necklace was the color of his wife's eyes.

He said, "She took it off and said, 'Give this to your wife.' She absolutely insisted."

Before leaving Cherkasy that time, Ptucha asked his hosts to return the necklace to the woman. Today he pulls for a people who've given so much and been robbed of much more.

HEARD OF 'SPARKS'? It's a indie film based on a graphic novel and rating a special screening Friday at the Roxy in Santa Rosa.


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