Despite being an American, loving this country, and English being the language I now think in, Kyiv has never stopped being a city I love and am nostalgic for. So much so that three days of our …
Despite being an American, loving this country, and English being the language I now think in, Kyiv has never stopped being a city I love and am nostalgic for. So much so that three days of our nine day honeymoon were spent there, because I wanted my husband to see why it's such a big part of my identity. Now, I am glad that he had a chance to meet the people my heart hurts for today.
My Mom brought me here for a better life and I am eternally grateful. The U.S. welcomed us and helped us realize our American dream. But we are in awe of the accomplishments of the Ukrainian people who stayed to build a better Ukraine. None of them wanted to become refugees or to think of how to shelter from missile strikes. Just as we work hard here to build a safe home in a good school district for our kids, friends there worked hard to build a better life for their kids, only to watch it now go up in smoke during indiscriminate bombing by the Russian army.
The emotional pain is physically hard to take right now. It’s hard to concentrate on work, to go about basic tasks. I’ve spoken to friends, and we have days where it’s not until we feel ill that we realize it’s because we forgot to eat. But our pain is out of fear for our loved ones, so whatever we’re going through pales in comparison to the people actually living through this hell.
We are touched by the outpouring of support and the desire to know more. People I haven’t spoken to in years are texting to see how they can help. It gives us hope that we share with loved ones in Ukraine, and they in turn wow us with their victories and their spirit!
Russians are becoming more violent in their confrontations with civilians; the world condemns but is slow to take action, and I get it, we're dealing with an unpredictable KGB agent with a nuke button and a bruised ego. But how many people need to die?
Most discouraging are the videos of Russian POWs calling home and their families not believing them. They have been so brainwashed that they will believe the story that will make them feel their conscience is clean rather than the truth. Even if we somehow win, there is no victory without the ousting of Putin.
I am in shock. I think we were ready for an intensified situation in the East of the country but not a full-out war and shelling of large cities. We were raised by grandparents who lived through WWII and who responded to frustrating situations with: 'Well, as long as there’s not going to be a war!' ...
So far, I have been able to reach everyone I tried to reach. Some have gone to Western Ukraine; some have gone to their summer homes in the countryside, and some have chosen to stay. They are determined to hold back Russian forces, whether by fighting in uniform or doing their part as civilians. They are upbeat and demand that we be, too.
Chernov-Gitin, who lives in Lafayette Hill, grew up in Ukraine's capital city, Kyiv, and emigrated to the U.S. with her family in 1993. She still has family members in Ukraine and “friends who are like family.”