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Fight for the Blue and Yellow

Stand United to Help Ukraine

By ANITA RACHELLEPublished 2 years ago 4 min read
Blue and yellow, the colors of Ukraine's flag

Ukraine – my parents’ homeland, a place I came to love over years visiting its blue skies and yellow fields, now the victim of a war that has not ceased and a nation of people who will not stop to defend their freedom. Never has war held such personal impact while the contrast made so vividly stark between my life here in the U.S. and the lives of relatives and friends in Ukraine.

I wake up every morning imagining how different my circumstances may have been if my parents did not immigrate to the U.S. over 32 years ago. They saw the promise America would provide life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, tenants Ukraine has fought for in both its pre-Soviet existence dating back to the 11th century and in its post-Soviet independence since 1991. Ukrainians and Americans hold the same core values; and Ukraine deserves the chance to build on those values. The Ukrainian people are currently not only in a fight for their lives but also seek to preserve their cultural heritage and sovereign territory. Still, war, even in a parents’ homeland, usually remains at a comfortable distance and accompanied with a sigh of relief, “Never my home, never my people.” Until it does hit (my home, my people). Instead of waking up to sunshine, a stable job, and a roof over my head in Austin, Texas, I could have been starting my morning in a dark bunker, hoping to stay safe. My mother’s childhood friend’s son was not so lucky.

On February 28, 2022, Anton, a 32-year-old recently engaged young man staying at my grandmother’s house outside Kyiv, died from Russian shelling in his fiancé’s arms. During my last visit in the summer of 2018, he picked me up from the airport. “Privyit!” ("Hello!") we exchanged as I picked up my suitcase from baggage claim and simultaneously saw him walk towards me. We sat in his old car driving past suburbs and villages (now almost obliterated) as I asked questions about his life, job, and future aspirations. Four years later, those dreams killed by atrocities brought on by a neighboring country, one I spent half a year studying in and a nation who had previously claimed brotherhood with Ukraine. A house full of memories, tracing back to my great-grandmother, also likely gone, but nothing compared to the loss of human life within its walls. With attacks getting progressively worse, Anton’s parents were unable to safely travel and organize a proper burial for him.

Family friend, Anton, with his fiancé prior to being killed by shelling outside Kyiv.

Several days later, a cousin stepped outside her house to discover a dead body and Russian soldiers begging for food. Realizing war was at her doorstep, she packed a bag and escaped Kyiv with her daughter, fleeing to Ternopil in western Ukraine. A trip that would have normally taken only six hours turned into a 20-hour drive. Thanks to the generosity of my college friend’s extended family in Poland, they have temporary refuge. A family friend, and her two daughters, also left the capital and made the journey to Berlin, where they stay with acquaintances but wrote to my mom, “I am trying to stand tall, but it is extremely hard and painful. [‘The neighboring country’] ruined my life and the lives of those closest to me. They are trying to take away my children’s futures.”

Though their immediate safety is secure, with their jobs on hold, they worry about finances and what fate each day brings to their loved ones back home. Some family and friends hope to resettle in the U.S. on refugee status once clearer steps for doing so are outlined. Meanwhile, fathers, uncles, and sons stay in Ukraine to fight against an aggressor whose justification for attack contains no grounds. Other women, children, and the elderly who are not able to escape hide in bunkers, train stations, theatres, and other make-shift places of refuge, unsure of their futures.

United Help Ukraine volunteers

I also see my aunt, Maryna Baydyuk, President of United Help Ukraine (UHU), a Georgetown University biology professor, wife, and mother of two young children, fight tirelessly to raise millions for UHU to send supplies and necessary humanitarian aid to those needing it overseas. This does not stop the war, but it helps slightly dampen its impacts. Her and the nonprofit's volunteers ensure Anton’s death, and those of countless other Ukrainians, does not go entirely in vain. First founded in 2014, when Russia invaded Crimea, in the last few weeks, the organization has become one of the leading entities sending necessary resources to help save Ukrainian lives.

Although the war has no clear end in sight, the world has seen Ukrainians’ resilience and their fight for the same freedoms our own country holds and that all nations should have an unequivocal right to. Their fight is our fight as they serve as a buffer between the evils of one man and the rest of the world. Join me in supporting United Help Ukraine, a 100% entirely volunteer run organization operating with only 1% administrative overhead, and a beautiful nation full of extraordinary and courageous people fighting for the freedom to wake up to sunshine in their beautiful blue skies and yellow fields.


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