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Ely resident helping Ukrainian soldiers in Minneapolis as well as elementary students doing a musical

HANDMADE cards and letters were crafted by Washington Elementary students and delivered by Tatiana Riobokin to Ukranian soldiers.

by Parker Loew

Ely resident Dr. Tatiana Riobokin returned from the Cities last week, where she has been treating Ukrainian soldiers.

Riobokin had been volunteering at the lower school, working on the musical “The High Seas”, when she was presented with the opportunity to help treat the soldiers.

She said the decision to take a break from volunteering at the musical was hard, but she received support from her colleagues.

“I had just signed up to help with the kids and the musical, and now I have this opportunity to help Ukrainians in the Cities, it was a very difficult decision,” she said.

Riobokin was in the midst of working with Mike Rouse on the musical at the time, but he urged her to go help the Ukrainian soldiers.

“Mike was very generous, and he said, no, go, go, go, help the soldiers,” she said.

While in the Twin Cities, she worked with the Protez Foundation, which provides free prosthetics and rehabilitation for Ukrainian soldiers, children, and civilians injured in the Ukraine War, and is located in Oakdale, Minnesota.

Riobokin treated soldiers there using her experience as an acupuncturist and chiropractor.

“Acupuncture and chiropractic help balance the body both psychologically and physically. This is critical when you are having a prosthetic fitted,” she said.

Riobokin explained how many soldiers were eager to get back to Ukraine to continue fighting.

“They are here to get strong, to get rehabilitated, and to go back to the fight,” she said. “There are a lot of soldiers with prosthetics that are fighting on the front line. Their courage is amazing, but they are also just the nicest guys.”

She said how most of them are always smiling and laughing when they were around her.

“They have a great sense of humor and are always joking and laughing despite what they have been through,” she said.

When the children in the musical were told Riobokin had to leave to go help the soldiers down in the Cities, they prepared a gift for her to give to them.

“I was quite stunned and surprised when the kids presented me with a beautiful bag of letters for the soldiers,” she said.

The kids wanted the soldiers to feel at home even though they were thousands of miles away from their home country.

“Many of the letters were written in Ukrainian by the kids,” she said. “The soldiers were really, really touched by the cards.”

Riobokin will continue traveling to the Cities to help the Protez Foundation with its mission.

Protez has recently brought on some more local therapists, so Riobokin was able to return to Ely briefly to help the children present their musical “The High Seas” last night.

The musical is about “pirates, sailors, mermaids, and sea creatures.”

“The pirates and sailors are headed to a Sea Faring Singing contest. They have adventures and a catastrophe at sea, but they help one another. It is very exciting and fun,” she said.

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