Olesia and her husband Yaroslav moved from Ukraine to the United States in 2019 and soon after started English classes at the Literacy Center. When I asked her if she would feel comfortable sharing about the situation in Ukraine, Olesia jumped at the chance. She said, “now my country needs all the support and help! The more people […] know about Ukraine, the better and more informed people in Russia will be!”
Olesia first learned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine when a friend called her at 1:00 a.m. saying that war had started there. The first day Olesia was in shock. The second day she spent crying and feeling very scared. But now, she feels encouraged, seeing how much everyone is helping each other. “Everybody is strong and not scared because everybody understands what is happening.”
Olesia speaks every day with her two sisters still in Ukraine, as well as her friends and former neighbors. They live in the western part of Ukraine where the war is less intense; so far, the bombing has been limited to the city’s airport and military bases. However, Olesia’s friends and family are using their basements as bunkers and hide whenever they hear sirens for incoming rockets. Olesia has urged her sisters to flee to a neighboring country, but their husbands are committed to staying to help with the war effort, and her sisters are unwilling to leave their husbands behind. Olesia is very worried about them.
Last Sunday, Olesia’s church held a liturgy to pray for Ukraine. Pastors and congregants from many other churches came to pray. Olesia was so happy to see so many people coming to fill her church and join together in prayer for her country.
I asked what she hoped would happen, and she responded emphatically that she wanted the Russian people to know the truth about Ukraine. She says that there are political lies happening in Russia, painting Ukrainians as enemies, but “Russians are my brothers and my sisters.” She hopes that Russians here can send information to their friends and family in Russia, and that maybe this will help. “A lot of people are dying, both Ukrainians and Russians, and the Russians don’t have information.”
Olesia finishes by saying: “I only have one dream: peace in Ukraine!”