NewsSarasota, Manatee County


Sarasota mother of 6 helps refugees at Ukraine border

Simone Knego Jewish Federation of North America.png
Posted at 7:51 AM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-23 16:04:49-04

SARASOTA, Fla. — Over the past three months, volunteers from around the world have traveled to the border separating Ukraine and Poland with supplies to help refugees fleeing the war-torn country.

One of them is a Sarasota mother of six Simone Knego.

“It’s kind of surreal that I actually went,” said Knego.

Knego gets emotional just sharing photos from the April trip.

“This is their home and they also don’t want to leave their family members behind,” said Knego.

She was part of a national volunteer effort through the Jewish Federation of North America, delivering dozens of duffle bags of medical supplies to refugees.

“Bandages and over-the-counter medications, things that are not as easy to access,” said Knego. “I did bring some toys and puzzles and coloring books and stuff like that as well because I can’t imagine as a child being displaced and having to decide what you are going to take in that one bag that you are carrying across the border.”

Knego said it was her own children, three of whom are adopted from Ethiopia and South Korea, that really motivated her to make the trip.

“These are people, these are children experiencing this, and yes this could have been my child in a different scenario, and it just brings it to a different level for me,” said Knego.

She will never forget arriving at the refugee center to find hundreds of cots spread out across one big room.

“Seeing the people waiting, not knowing what their next step is, that will be in my mind forever,” said Knego.

However, she also said, seeing volunteers, from all over the world, doing anything to help, kept her faith in humanity.

“I think a lot of times people don’t realize or don’t think that they can make a difference and every person can make a difference,” said Knego.