By Seth Humeniuk
As the war in Ukraine rages on and millions of Ukrainians flee their homes, Chicagoans are stepping up to help. Protesters rallied support for the Ukrainian government, organizations prepared resources to help refugees and one brave young woman told her story of escape and begged Americans to support her war-torn home.
(Dan Daiczun adresses the crowd at a rally. “God is helping,” he says, “for your side is the side of truth, glory, and freedom. May God bless the United States of America, may God bless Ukraine. Slava Ukraini!! [Glory to Ukraine]” “Heroyam Slava! [Glory to heroes]” the crowd responds)
TEXT ON SCREEN: ACROSS CHICAGO, THOUSANDS OF UKRAINIANS AND AMERICANS ARE COMING TOGETHER…TO VOICE THEIR SUPPORT OF UKRAINE…
TEXT ON SCREEN: …AND CONDEMN RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN’S INVASION OF THE COUNTRY.
Evelina Shvets: “He just wants to bomb people. All innocent people are dying.”
TEXT ON SCREEN: PROTESTERS BEG WESTERN LEADERS TO DO MORE TO SUPPORT THE UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT.
(Protest chanting “Close the sky!!”)
(Ukrainian national anthem plays)
TEXT ON SCREEN: THEY DEMAND AID FOR THE 3 MILLION REFUGEES THE UN ESTIMATES HAVE FLED THE COUNTRY.
TEXT ON SCREEN: SOME ORGANIZATIONS ARE ALSO TAKING MATTERS INTO THEIR OWN HANDS.
TEXT ON SCREEN: AT MEEST KARPATY SHIPPING COMPANY…
TEXT ON SCREEN: …ORGANIZERS HOLD DRIVES TO COLLECT VITAL SUPPLIES…
TEXT ON SCREEN: …TO SUPPORT UKRAINE’S MILITARY…
TEXT ON SCREEN: …AND AID DISPLACED UKRAINIANS.
ANTONINA TOMEI: “People are donating all sorts of things. Blankets, clothing, but the things we really, really need is definitely medications and… um… supplies for our soldiers. Ammunition, helmets, night vision, pretty much everything would be helpful.”
“PEOPLE ARE DONATING ALL SORTS OF THINGS. BLANKETS, CLOTHING… BUT THE THINGS WE REALLY, REALLY NEED IS DEFINITELY MEDICATIONS AND…UM…SUPPLIES FOR OUR SOLDIERS. AMMUNITION, HELMETS, NIGHT VISION, PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING WOULD BE HELPFUL.”
TEXT ON SCREEN: SELFRELIANCE ASSOCIATION IS LEADING EFFORTS TO HELP REFUGEES ONCE THEY REACH THE U.S.
Ania Holowatyj: “We help people, new immigrants that come in, they cannot speak English. We help them with legal problems, we have attorneys that help them with immigration problems.”
TEXT ON SCREEN: ANIA HOLOWATYJ BEGAN LIFE AS A REFUGEE FLEEING THE SOVIET UNION DURING WWII.
Ania Holowatyj: “My mother at the time was pregnant with me as they were…you know…escaping the… communist regime and I was born on the way.”
TEXT ON SCREEN: NOW, SHE DOES EVERYTHING IN HER POWER TO HELP UKRAINIANS IN THE SAME SITUATION.
Ania Holowatyj: “When I heard that the Russians were trying to take over Odessa, since my great-great-grandfather was one of the founders of Odessa. I just had to do something to help Ukraine and Ukrainians. I was ready to go on the boat, I don’t care, or on a plane and be a nurse’s assistant, a doctor’s assistant. We are preparing ourselves to be able to help them in whatever way we can.”
TEXT ON SCREEN: SOFIA KOLESNYK IS A STUDENT AT UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY…
(Crowd at a rally chants “close the sky!”)
TEXT ON SCREEN: AND IS ONE OF THE FIRST UKRAINIAN REFUGEES TO REACH CHICAGO.
TEXT ON SCREEN: ON DAY ONE OF THE RUSSIAN INVASION, SHE AWOKE TO THE SOUND OF SIRENS, AND A CALL FROM HER FATHER.
SOFIA KOLESNYK: “AND I SAW THAT MY FATHER CALLED ME AND I CAN PICK UP BECAUSE I UNDERSTOOD THAT WAR HAS BEGUN.”
TEXT ON SCREEN: SHE FLED FROM LVIV TO WARSAW, CARRYING OUT THE ESCAPE PLAN HER FATHER HAD HELPED PUT TOGETHER.
SOFIA KOLESNYK: “AND AFTER THAT I GO WITH MY FAMILY FRIENDS, IN THE CAR, TO MOVE TO POLAND. FIFTY HOURS TO THE BORDER WITH POLAND, AND AFTER THAT FOUR OR FIVE HOURS TO WARSAW. SO IT WAS HARD AND DIFFICULT JOURNEY, BECAUSE WE DON’T SLEEP AT ALL. I SLEEP, I THINK, MAYBE FIVE OR SIX HOURS AND OUR DRIVERS DO NOT SLEEP AT ALL, ALL OF THESE DAYS. WE DON’T HAVE TOILETS, WE DON’T HAVE ANY WATER OR FOOD.”
TEXT ON SCREEN: KOLESNYK’S MOTHER AND YOUNGER SIBLINGS ESCAPED UKRAINE SEPARATELY FROM HER…
TEXT ON SCREEN: …BUT HER FATHER AND GRANDPARENTS REMAIN IN THE COUNTRY.
SOFIA KOLESNYK: “I worry about my family all day, all the time. I leave my friends, I leave my boyfriend. I can’t see them and I don’t know where I can, when I can see them at all.”
TEXT ON SCREEN: ONCE IN WARSAW, SOFIA CONTACTED FAMILY FRIEND LUBA ANDRUS…
TEXT ON SCREEN: …WHO ARRANGED HER TRIP TO CHICAGO AND AGREED TO HOST HER.
LUBA ANDRUS: “WELL TO ME, I DON’T HAVE ANY DAUGHTERS, SO I HAVE A DAUGHTER. AND, YOU KNOW, I TOLD HER ‘HERE, YOU HAVE THE WHOLE BACK OF THE HOUSE, THIS IS YOURS.'”
(Pavlo Bandriwsky addresses the crowd saying “Chicago greet Sofia! Vitayemo Sofiyu [Welcome Sofia]” as the crowd cheers.)
TEXT ON SCREEN: KOLESNYK IS GRATEFUL FOR THE KINDNESS AMERICANS HAVE SHOWN HER.
TEXT ON SCREEN: SHE THINKS THE WEST NEEDS TO DO MORE TO HELP UKRAINE, THOUGH.
Sofia Kolesnyk: “American people so nice to me and so cute. I have safety place in America, I have beautiful family in America, but I think that Americans need to ask government to close the sky in Ukraine. If we can close the sky of Ukraine, for Ukraine, we can save all of Ukraine.”
(speaker addresses the crowd at a rally. “Fate will smile upon us” she says.)
TEXT ON SCREEN: LIKE MANY UKRAINIANS, KOLESNYK IS CONFIDENT HER COUNTRY WILL ULTIMATELY BE VICTORIOUS.
Sofia Kolesnyk: “Ukrainian people are so brave and so love freedom, and we win in this war and everything will be good as soon as possible, I hope.”
Seth Humeniuk is a graduate student at Medill. You can follow him on Twitter at @seth_humeniuk