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Just as her husband, President Volodymyr Zelensky, called on countries around the world to supply Ukraine with arms, Olena Zelenska asked for an ambulance.

Ms Zelenska, who recently became a high-profile advocate for humanitarian causes in her country, raised more than $5 million in just over a week to help replenish the country’s ambulance supply.The activity is Donations are still being collected, Sufficient funds have been raised to buy nearly 50 ambulances, but Ms Zelenska estimates that 400 ambulances are needed.

In an interview with Ukrainian television networks on Saturday, Ms Zelenska encouraged more donations, no matter how small.

“Any amount matters now,” she said. “I thank everyone who has joined our initiative,” she added.

While Zelensky’s frequent video speeches since the start of the Russian invasion in February have made him a familiar face, the first lady has increasingly come into the spotlight in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, she made a rare appearance in Washington to address Congress, demanding more weapons to defend against Russia. To highlight the toll of the war, Ms Zelenska showed pictures of children who lost their parents or limbs in the attack.

She has also used her image outside of diplomacy: Last week, Ms Zelenska was on the cover of Vogue for an article titled “Portrait of Bravery.”

The ambulance initiative began with a summit of first ladies and gentlemen chaired by Ms Zelenska on July 23 to discuss Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction.

Each ambulance costs about $100,000 and comes with oxygen tanks, defibrillators, electrocardiographs, heart monitors and mechanical ventilators, according to United24, the public charity that collects donations. They can also be driven off-road, a key feature in wartime conditions.

According to Ms Zelenska, donations have been received from 51 countries, with Ukraine, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Israel contributing the most.



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