Clinging to hope

Many Ukrainian-Americans living in Rochester are worried about their relatives and are uniting with people around the globe to help the nearly three and a half million Ukrainians who have been forced to flee from their homeland as the war in Ukraine rages on.

Organizations in Rochester such as InterVol have sent medical supplies and hygiene products to Ukrainians.

Jessica Tabachuk with her cousin in Rivne, Ukraine. Contributed photo.

There are about 15,000-20,000 Ukrainian-Americans that live in Rochester. Jessica Tabachuk, 20, is one of them. She was in Ukraine two weeks before Russia invaded.

“We were scheduled to head back to America on February 12, but we knew there was a risk of the invasion, so we didn’t want to book anything past that date”, said Tabachuk.

Tabachuk was visiting her family in Rivne and was there since January 10. Currently, her family is still in Ukraine.

“My family is not currently under threat, but the military base that is close to them did get bombed. A couple of people from their street drove to pick up relatives in Kyiv were also bombed and in the process were killed”, said Tabachuk.

Tabachuk (sitting on the chair on the right) and her family having dinner in Rivne. Contributed photo.

Before Tabachuk’s trip to Ukraine, her family was not concerned.

“We were crossing our fingers hoping that Putin was just bluffing to scare us, but when we got to Ukraine, it felt so real. We would be driving on the roads, and we witnessed tanks being transported to major cities, so it was a lot more scarier when we were actually there”, said Tabachuk.

After a while in Ukraine, Tabachuk started to become more concerned.

“I asked my family how we were getting back to America if the invasion happened. America had released news warning U.S. citizens to flee Ukraine and that’s when I wanted to go home because I was terrified”, said Tabachuk.

After Tabachuk and her family returned to Rochester, they learned that local businesses were helping the Ukrainian refugees. The Guardians of Hope were an organization consisting of Ukrainian men who left their families to directly help these refugees. They were planning to cross the border of Ukraine to help these people.

“It is a big deal to risk their lives and leave behind everything knowing there’s a real chance they could die. It’s very touching to me”, said Tabachuk.

Many other Ukrainians living in Rochester and around America have families in Ukraine that are also in danger. They are clinging to that hope that they will be able to see their loved ones again one day.



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