The world watches anxiously as the situation unfolds in Ukraine. In North Texas, there have been rallies and vigils in a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
Many here still have close ties to the country and hope for the safety of loved ones. As people rallied in Downtown Fort Worth Sunday afternoon, many brought with them personal stories and names of loved ones they’re concerned for.
Like Nataliia Hays lived in North Texas now but said her mother’s sisters, her cousins, goddaughters, and friends are still in Ukraine.
She helped organize Sunday’s rally while battling her own feelings of fear. She tells us her family is now hiding in the basement of an apartment building, not far from the sounds of explosions.
“They just go down and hide and sometimes they go up to find something to eat and drink,” Hays said.
It was early last month when Hays’ mother landed in Texas for what they thought would be just a two and half month visit. Now her mother plans to stay, while her family in Ukraine hopes to survive.
“My heart hurts so bad because what can I do?” she said.
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A short drive away in Plano, a worship service was held also with the Ukrainian people in mind. Pastor Leo Regheta of River of Life Dallas Church said he’s coming to grips with what’s happening in his native country.
“I was blown away,” Regheta said. “I couldn’t believe my eyes. I didn’t think it would come down to that.”
He, too, has family in Ukraine. He said the visibility, the financial support, and solidarity keep them going.
“This support is what gives wings that we can use to fly on,” said Regheta.
As for those waiting, watching, hoping, fighting, and hiding…
“Our message to them is just stay alive somehow,” said Hays. “Do whatever. Hide. Just stay alive.”
For more information on the Ukrainian conflict, United States response, and how to help visit https://www.uast.org/ or https://www.state.gov/additional-military-assistance-for-ukraine/.