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Bono impersonator books one-way ticket to Ukraine border to help refugees

Pavel left behind his entire life in San Diego when he flew out to Romania this month with the hopes of “providing humanitarian assistance” to Ukrainian refugees.

Neasa Cumiskey

A Bono lookalike who booked a one-way ticket to Romania to volunteer at a Ukrainian refugee camp along the border has said that he “may not return” home.

Pavel Sfera (46) is one of the world’s leading Bono impersonators and tribute artists but has swapped his musical career for a life of humanitarianism with no plans of looking back.

Pavel left behind his entire life in San Diego when he flew out to Romania this month with the hopes of “providing humanitarian assistance” to Ukrainian refugees.

“I’ve been here now a week officially,” he told sundayworld.com from his station at the Ukraine-Romania border, which is about five hours away from Odessa.

“I have lots to live for in the States but I have lots to live for here as well. There’s a humanitarian calling.

“I prepared a will and had it certified before I left. I may not return. I may not return even alive.

“I’m elated that I can be here, but I don’t know if I’m going to go back. I’m going to stay here as long as I can. The last thing I want to do is have the war get worse and me leave. I don’t think I could live with myself if that happened.

“You can’t leave people behind, especially families like this. It’s tough but we’re doing everything in our power to help them feel like there’s direction. I’m a refugee myself so I get emotional over stuff like this.”

Pavel, who has been impersonating Bono professionally for the past 20 years, said that he’s been using his likeness as the U2 frontman to raise morale by playing a few tunes for everyone to enjoy.

“I did Romania’s Got Talent a few years ago and did the whole Bono thing so I've got a bit of notoriety here. Every time I come into the tent here, someone’s playing some U2,” he explained.

“I brought a guitar over here but it got lost at the airport and no one seems to know where it’s at. I want to perform. I performed one night when I borrowed a guitar from a Gypsy girl here and played a few tunes.

“Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen was quite popular and we did some gospel stuff. You could see their faces change and light up. I want them to have these memories.”

He said that he’s met dozens of amazing people in the past week spent at the camp, from his fellow volunteers to the refugees themselves.

“We’re supportive of one another. There’s a lot of volunteers. Some of these people are working 12 to 14 hours a day and no one’s paying them. They don’t consider themselves humanitarians.

“There’s a young couple here, a Ukrainian couple. They’ve been here five months and they’re so fun to watch because they’re giddy and playful. They’re doing humanitarian work and they’re not getting paid. This is how they’re spending their honeymoon.

“Given the circumstances, it’s been a good scenario with the staff here and I’m elated that we can afford the time, the effort, and some of the resources needed to make this thing as efficient as possible.”

Staff at the Ukraine-Romanian border are expecting somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 asylum seekers over the next few days.

“That’s a lot of people, luggage, kids,” said Pavel.

“As long as our efforts are effective, that’s crucial for me. Everyone has the capacity to do something with what tools they have. I believe in spreading the love.”

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