Ukrainian graduate student at Notre Dame speaks about her volunteer work in Ukraine and how you can help

It’s been almost one week since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine last Thursday.

Anna Romandash, a graduate student studying peace and the environmental impact of Ukrainian infrastructure had to put her work on pause since last week’s invasion as she has shifted her focus toward helping others from her home country.

While far from home, Romandash is putting her writing and organizational skills to work to help those under attack.

She translates messages for foreign readers but she also writes—telling stories of those on the ground fighting Russia, seeking refuge in Poland and volunteering in hard hit cities like Kiev and Kharkiv.

She also helps Ukrainians find reliable funds and transportation as they navigate the attacks.

With a unique perspective, Romandash wants to share these messages of Ukrainian citizens.

“While Ukrainian people are showing they are super optimistic; they are volunteering. At some point, you just need arms to protect yourself—and as optimistic and as patriotic as you are, civilians can’t do much when there are tanks against them,” said Romandash.

Romandash told me that not all civilians feel comfortable with arms, some do not want to use them and others do not know how to use them.

Many people she has spoken to that are helping the fight without fighting have been assisting with food distribution and aid to those that are—in dangerous places like Kiev.

She also says that Russians have sent out mixed messages saying that Ukraine has a crisis in itself caused by Ukrainians.

Romandash wants you to know that is not the case; it is Russia who is attacking innocent people and the crisis is on that of humanity.

“Understand that the war on Ukraine is a war against everybody because it is a war against human values,” said Romandash.

She says that she would love to be with her family who are staying in the “relatively safer” western region of Ukraine; however, a lot of work will be needed as people seek refuge in that area.

Romandash is from the western region of the country—near Lviv. The area is now a hub of internally displaced people.

“A lot of people are coming there. So, there’s a lot of help needed. So, it is something I could also do,” said Romandash.

Of the Ukrainian population, it is predicted that 5 million people will be displaced from their homes following the Russian attacks.

To help Ukrainians, Romandash has some suggests that Americans educate themselves on the conflict.

With a better understanding of what is happening, we are able to spread the word on the matter throughout our communities. She also recommends that we demand more from our representatives, support independent media in Ukraine and donate to charities and organizations to assist refugees.

Over 600 thousand people have been displaced from their homes as a result of the attacks, and the number is expected to increase to 5 million. The small steps listed above can help lessen the number of international refugees as more and more Ukrainians flee.

Romandash recommends resources like Come Back Alive and Help Ukraine Win if you are interested in helping Ukrainians. If you are looking to donate elsewhere, be on the lookout for scams. Additional safe and reliable organizations can be found here.

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