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In Northeast Ohio, Ukrainians reflect on a year of war in their home country

Posted at 12:33 PM, Feb 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-27 16:50:35-05

PARMA, Ohio — Parma is home to one of the state's most concentrated populations of Ukrainians. Some fled there to safety and many others set up lives there decades ago.

News 5 anchor Courtney Gousman talked to those from our local Ukrainian community about how they feel about those fighting for freedom in their home country a year later.

It’s the first Friday of Lent and parishioners and visitors of St. Josaphat Cathedral in Parma gathered for a fish fry. This day also marks the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“My heart hurts for all the loved ones.”

Olha Kalivoshko was born in Ukraine and came to the United States at the age of 24, in 1998. Most of her immediate family is here in the Cleveland area, but there are some relatives she left behind, including an older cousin.

“Him and his handicapped wife was in the first cities attacked and was under Russian siege. Him and his handicapped wife couldn’t evacuate for almost two months because he was bedridden,” says Kalivoshko.

Since the beginning of the war, Olha has volunteered with countless drives to send aid to her home country. She’s most proud of the men and women who stayed behind to fight for her homeland.

“Ukrainians treasure their independence. We treasure our culture. Our culture is unbelievable. Nobody can cross it out. They said this is enough. This is our land. We're going to fight until the last drop,” says Kalivoshko.

Bishop Bohdan Danylo just returned this week after spending more than a week in Ukraine.

“Ten miles from the center of the city, you saw a building totally destroyed. Cars in flames. Now basically a shell of a car on the side of the road. And people are really scared over there,” says Danylo.

Danylo was there for the ordination of several bishops but he also went to see how much help is still needed on the ground, visiting several orphanages and military chaplain centers.

He says more than $1.2 million has been sent to Ukraine from his diocese.

“Mostly for refugees and for orphans and all hospitals. You know we help with hospitals. Military hospitals especially,” says Danylo.

While Danylo is praying for an end to this war, he also says he’s seen how it’s brought the local Ukrainian community together.

“I want to thank people in Cleveland if I may. On the first anniversary of war, I want to say thank you to everyone who prays for Ukraine. Without the support of the United States, Ukraine would probably fall a long time ago.”

This Sunday, Feb. 26 at 5 p.m., there will be a special prayer service for Ukraine at St. Josaphat Cathedral Parish at 5720 State Rd., Parma, OH 44135.

More of our coverage of the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine:

1 year later, Parma residents reflect on the war in Ukraine