Ukrainian Hoosier speaks out over ongoing crisis

NOW: Ukrainian Hoosier speaks out over ongoing crisis

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- “I really changed my whole perspective on this life, you do not need much, you do not need car, or fancy things the main thing is just being alive,” says Olga. “Being with your family, just being able to walk outside, and go to park and enjoy nice weather and not be afraid someone can come and take everything you have or kill you.”

On this sunny afternoon, Olga spent time outside with her family. But in her heart, she was thinking of her home.

“When you ask about your childhood, it is the best time of your life, and I had my childhood in Ukraine. I think it was the best time of my life that is why I love Ukraine. I want it to be an independent country and stay as a whole.”

Olga grew up in Ukraine and moved to the states at the age of 28 to be with her now husband. While nearly a decade has passed in America, Olga’s family and friends remain in Ukraine. Through the destruction, chaos and fear, Olga hears daily phone calls regarding their safety.

“I know I talked to them today, they do not let people in and out, they do not let trucks with food come into the city, and people are now using whatever they have left.”

Even her brother, despite no fighting experience, is required to stay in the city and prepare to defend the country.

“Even if he could get out to a safer place, but he cannot leave the country because men from 18-year-old to 60-year-old have to stay to defend the country.”

Each night, she thinks of her family and friends, hearing sirens and explosions when the sun sets.

“In Indiana, we had a siren because tornado in Indiana, and it was scary, and I think gosh they hear maybe five times a day, ten times a day.”

Olga’s mother was coincidentally in America for a visit to see her grandchildren. Now, Olga finds peace in knowing she is with her and safe.

 “For me, it is a huge relief, I do not know how I would live if she was there in a dangerous place, but she says everyday she wants to go back to protect her son and house and granddaughter which she can’t, what can she do”

Now, raising her own daughters here, she dreams of a time to go back to her home and show them her country.

“I was dreaming to go to Ukraine and show them things, and different beautiful places, and I still am hoping to. Couple weeks ago, I was talking with my girlfriends about dresses and vacations and having good things in life, and now just talking about how to survive and they are just happy they got bread today. Bread is hard to find.”

While her heart aches, Olga’s pride for her country and its people remains.

“I do not know, nobody knows if they will survive or how they will, but I tell you this, for the first time in my life I am really proud of my Ukrainian president, and Ukrainians, how they got together and are fighting.”

You can help the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Consider donating to Indiana Supports Ukraine. Find their Wishlist of supplies here. Airbnb is also having a fundraiser to open homes to refugees in need. Learn more here.

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