EAST BRUNSWICK – In efforts to render aid to Ukrainian residents, the East Brunswick Township Council has passed a resolution to establish a sister city in Rivne, Ukraine.
On May 9, Council President James Wendell, Council Vice President Kevin McEvoy, Councilwoman Sharon Sullivan, Councilman Dinesh Behal and Councilwoman Dana Zimbicki voted “yes” on a motion to pass the resolution.
Referred to as the “amber capital of Ukraine” for its mineral deposits and gemstones, Rivne’s numerous railroads and highways also make it an industrial powerhouse and transportation corridor for many other towns, according to the resolution.
The resolution states that East Brunswick and Rivne will collaborate to exchange and develop cultural, educational, and economic initiatives that contribute to the enrichment of both cities.
“The Township of East Brunswick and the City of Rivne, on the basis of friendly cooperation, equality and mutual benefit, will continue to develop a sister cities relationship to promote and broaden economic cooperation and cultural exchanges between the Township and Rivne.
“The township and Rivne declare their intention to promote exchanges in such fields as science, technology, sports, health, youth and any areas that will contribute to the prosperity and the further development of friendship between the people of the township and Rivne.”
However, with the military conflict and humanitarian crisis still lingering on in Ukraine, the partnership is first prioritizing the collection and donation of resources for those in need, according to the resolution.
The resolution mentions that on March 14, 20 people were killed and nine were injured after a Russian missile struck a TV tower in Rivne. According to the resolution, the city has an estimated population of 245,000 and is located 200 miles west of Kyiv, the country’s capital.
Mayor Brad Cohen said that although the resolution focuses on cultural exchanges, the top priority is rendering aid to Rivne’s residents.
“Our heart bleeds for the citizens that are enduring the terrible and unfortunate circumstances that they find themselves in. Our goal in East Brunswick, and I think as Americans, is to try and do what we can to help.
“The sister city relationship, at least in this instance, is being done right now, and primarily, to give them the help when they need it the most. You try to help your friends when they’re down-and-out. We have friends there; we know that they need our help right now,” Cohen said.
Cohen further stated that once Ukraine overcomes these challenges, the focus can revert back to the open exchange of culture and community for both cities.
“Hopefully, the Ukrainians are victorious in this struggle. We’ll be able to look at the sister city and be able to do things beyond helping out during this conflict … and working with the kids to establish relationships among our youth, and business relationships, and cultural exchange, the things that most people have in common. At a very base level, most of us are the same. We turn on the TV and we hear about all these geopolitical differences.
“But on a day-to-day basis, people all want the same thing. They want the best opportunity for their children, they want opportunity for growth and to live in a safe community, and to be able to thrive, to be able to provide, and to feel like they’re valuable people in their community,” Cohen said.
Cohen encouraged those interested in providing resources or making donations to reach out to Assemblyman Sterley Stanley or the mayor’s office for more information.