Sonya Voloboi says “the air raid sirens are going off five times a day” in her hometown of Dnipro in Ukraine.
Voloboi, a mechanical engineering sophomore at Northwestern, is the spokesperson for a group called “NU for Ukraine,” a group raising money for medical supplies for their embattled home country.
Hard-to-miss signs, saying “Stand With Ukraine,” and “Support Ukraine” were at the group’s table in the lobby of the Northwestern Technical Institute on Tuesday.
Several volunteers, all with family in Ukraine, collected donations from supportive students who stopped by to talk.
While Voloboi and her parents moved to the United States in 2010, she still has Ukranian relatives trying to stay safe from the Russian invasion.
She texts with them frequently to get the latest developments.
While Dnipro, she says, is “more or less calm,” fear is still a daily reality in that part of eastern Ukraine.
Some of her family has already fled to Germany “to seek refuge,” but Voloboi also notes that “not everybody has the resources to leave.”
Some families do not have cars, and it can take “days to walk to the border,” through “very dangerous” territory.
Plus, men under age 60 are not allowed to exit Ukraine, because they are needed to fight the Russians.
Voloboi says “the threat of a Russian invasion has been looming over us since 2014,” when Russia annexed Crimea, a portion of Ukraine.
“It’s hard for Americans to realize the reality” of how Ukranians, including her relatives, have to live, Voloboi adds.
“I have faith in the Ukranian people in putting up a strong fight,” she says, “but it can’t be done by Ukraine alone.”
Support from other nations is critical.
So far, “NU for Ukraine” has collected about $7,500 over two days. They are hoping to have more fund-raisers, perhaps off campus as well.
The money will go to an organization called “Razom for Ukraine.”
In Ukranian, “razom” means “together.”