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The following was written by Mykhailo “Misha” Shvets, a Ph.D. student in the computer science department in the College of Arts & Sciences. A charity concert for Ukraine will be held May 22 in Hill Hall. See end of the piece for more details. Read more first-person stories from Carolina people.

Mykhailo “Misha” Shvets

Doctoral student and graduate teaching assistant, computer science department, College of Arts & Sciences

Misha Shvets, upper left, and his father’s family in Ukraine.
Misha Shvets, upper left, and his father’s family in Ukraine.

Every day since Feb. 24 for me, as for all Ukrainians, has been filled with endless pain watching as cities are destroyed and civilians tortured, raped and murdered. I’ve spent dozens of hours on the phone with my family members, who are all in Ukraine.

My mother lives in my home city of Dnipro, not far from the front lines, and has heard hundreds of air raid sirens. She stops her activities every time to seek shelter. Yet, she manages to pull herself together, continues carrying out her work duties and supporting her elderly parents. Millions of Ukrainians like my mother are staying strong and have the backs of our warriors: running the economy, caring for each other, volunteering.

In the war’s first days, my father’s family with children ages 5 and 7 found themselves in a hot spot on the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv. For two weeks they had no electricity, heating, tap water and food supply. My father made dangerous trips every day to find a place with some poor cell phone connection to get news and send a few texts like:

“They fired mortars over our heads, now enemy tanks are firing a little from the side — loud explosions. About 200 meters from us.”

On one trip he had to run for his life from Russian soldiers. Later at that same spot, reporters found a burnt car with four dead bodies of those trying to escape the occupation. My dad joined a self-organized motorcade to get his family out. They were able to pass the Russian tanks blocking the road, but along the highway they witnessed numerous cars shot and buildings and gas stations burnt down. They are now in the west of the country in a safer place, even though no place is truly safe in Ukraine at this moment.

My family is lucky to be alive and to not have been physically assaulted by the barbaric Russian forces. Many are not lucky. Ukraine is paying an exorbitant price in this fight against pure evil. Paying with lost lives, shattered destinies, traumatized children, broken hearts. Recovery will be hard. Yet, it’s not hard to help. It doesn’t take a lot of time to attend a rally or charity event or to volunteer for a donation drive. We need people to show up and stand with Ukraine. We fight for our future and defend values of democracy for the whole world.

Compiled by The Well

Charity concert for front-line paramedics

Attend a celebration of Ukrainian music, art and culture 5-7 p.m. May 22 in Hill Hall’s Moeser Auditorium to raise money for Ukrainian paramedics on the war’s front lines. The event will feature soprano opera singer Alina Cherkasov and pianist Taras Filenko. Admission is by donation.

Sponsored by the Ukrainian Association of North Carolina and spearheaded by Maryna Kapustina of the UNC School of Medicine, the event is presented with support from the College of Arts & Sciences’ music department and Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies.


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