Ukrainians are fighting to stay in their homeland

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
ukriane protests

Ukrainians who are now living in Southwest Florida are now balancing watching those difficult images of war in their country and having a sense of pride for those staying and fighting.

One woman WINK News introduced you to has family members trying to leave Ukraine but had to say and fight.

With martial law now in effect, men between 18 and 60 cannot leave the country. So, many women and children who want to get out of Ukraine won’t. They don’t want to say goodbye to their brothers, fathers, husbands and sons.

The Ukrainian language and traditional food greet you as soon as you walk into St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Ann-Marie Sulsa lives in Englewood and could talk about her food all day, smile included. “They’re delicious,” Sulsa said.

But, when you ask Sulsa how her family is doing, that’s a different story. “I feel just terribly, terribly sick to my stomach. Very shaky. It’s nerves, it’s stress, you know, and you listen to the television, and it’s very, very difficult,” she said.

It is hard to reach her cousins still in Ukraine as war rages on. “They’re very frightened. They could not believe that this was going to happen,” said Sulsa.

On Monday, Russian diplomats met at the Ukrainian border to discuss a ceasefire. That meeting wasn’t fruitful.

Janina Kielbasa lives in North Port. She left Ukraine when she was 16 but still has many loved ones there. They are trying to save themselves and others.

“They’re being very brave. My one cousin who lives in Kolomyia, she has a fairly large house, and she’s living by herself, so she’s decided to take refugees from central and eastern Ukraine,” said Kielbasa.

While hundreds of thousands of people have already fled Ukraine, many more will stay and fight for their homeland.

“They love their independence that they are willing to die and not leave their country,” said Kielbasa.

Parishioners at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church will sell food on Friday to raise money for the church. But some of that money will help send much-needed items to their families back in Ukraine.

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