When Fuminori Tsuchiko arrived in the Ukrainian city last year, he told himself he wanted to do something to help people
An elderly Japanese man decided to open a free cafe in Kharkiv, Reuters reported.
When Fuminori Tsuchiko arrived in the Ukrainian city last year, he told himself he wanted to do something to help people after the Russian invasion.
Motivated by the plight of people forced by Russian shelling to take shelter in subway stations, the 75-year-old Japanese man from Tokyo decided to stay.
He says he lived in one of the subway stations for months and volunteered to deliver food to people hiding in the subway.
He, together with a Ukrainian they met there, opened a cafe in “Saltyvka”, a district of Kharkiv, mainly thanks to donations from his compatriots made through social media campaigns.
“For seven months, from June to December, I lived underground – in the subway, together with so many Ukrainians,” says Tsuchiko.
FuMi Cafe serves about 500 people a day, he says.
Tsuchiko says he visited Ukraine as a tourist in February 2022 when the Japanese embassy asked him to leave the country because Russia was already preparing for the invasion. He left for Warsaw, but returned after two months.
One of the visitors to the cafe – Anna Tovstopyatova says that she came to make a donation.
“It’s wonderful that there are such honest people with open hearts and souls who sacrifice their lives and time to help and give to others,” says Tovstopyatova.
In the Kharkiv region, the Russian armed forces were stopped, after which the Ukrainian army pushed them back across the Russian-Ukrainian border. Despite the retreat, Russian attacks on the city continued.