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'Absolutely devastating': Local Ukrainian family in constant contact with family, friends back home

Posted at 10:21 PM, Mar 07, 2022

RACINE, Wisc. — All over Olena Latysheva's home are signs of Ukraine.

"It's beautiful country, it's beautiful city," Latysheva said. "I love my city of Kiev."

In 2005 her husband's job moved the family to Racine. Latysheva last visited Ukraine in 2019. It's tough for her to imagine what it's like now.

"Terrible. Absolutely devastating. I can't even tell you how we all feel," Latysheva said.

She has been glued to the news, her phone and social media.

"I talk to 10, 15, 20 people every day through text and Facebook, calls, whatever we can do, just to know they are okay, they are safe," Latysheva said.

Many of her friends and relatives have fled Ukraine. She says her husband is helping his mother, who escaped to Poland.

"People who have to leave their homes and go to unknown, to other countries, it hurts a lot," Latysheva said. "All my friends say we cried as much as we can, we can't cry anymore, it's terrible what we see here."

She says some friends and relatives are staying in Ukraine. She says she's very proud of her people.

"It has its own language, its own culture, its own tradition," Latysheva said. "And when it's denied to Ukrainian or wanted to be taken away from them, I think it's why all people stand up."

Latysheva has gone to local rallies to show her support for her home country. She hopes it will inspire people to help more.

"We need every possible help—humanitarian help, army help," Latysheva said.

Her son, Daniel, is in medical school in Chicago and is trying to encourage people to donate medical supplies, as he says they are running out on the front lines.

"Not only providing the food, the clothing, the beds, the tents for people who still there who are unfortunately escaping, but also how can we take care of these people," Daniel said.

"We just want Putin to take his army back, to go home and leave Ukraine alone," Latysheva said.

In the meantime, Latysheva will continue to fight for the country she loves.

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