Published May 12, 2022
BY CLAIRE PETERSON
Carmel High School senior Elina Nizamova was born in Moscow before moving with her family to Ukraine, where she spent most of her childhood singing, dancing and performing. When the war broke out in Ukraine, Nizamova became one of many whose family has experienced grief and devastation due to the destruction the war has brought to their home country and the danger it has put their families in.
“It’s very hard to see all these pictures of the beautiful country where I spent my every summer getting destroyed and demolished,” Nizamova says.
The war has also placed the CHS senior’s family at risk, forcing them to migrate to nearby countries or take shelter within the country.
“A part of my family fled Ukraine, but a part of my family is still there,” Nizamova explains. “They’re living in fear that any time a bomb could be dropped on their house.”
On Feb. 24, Russian president Vladmir Putin invaded Ukraine, the resulting war destroying the country and impacting its people in the process. Carmel locals with family across these borders are experiencing the emotional effects firsthand as they suffer alongside their family and friends.
Hospitals, schools and thousands of homes in Ukraine have been destroyed by bombings and fighting, consequently disrupting day-to-day life for much of the country. The conflicts between Ukraine and Russia began in 2014, but only recently did a full blown war break out. Over 11 million Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes, either forced to seek refugee in neighboring countries or within the war-torn country itself. As of April 20, Poland has the highest record of Ukrainian refugees at 2.8 million.
The war has also split apart families with relatives on the other side of the border who have differing opinions about the war and many of Putin’s decisions. With some supporting Putin’s ideals and others siding with Ukraine, students such as CHS senior Anastasia Zolotova have discovered that the war has brought about divisions within their families.
“My family is majority Russian, and I know some of my family that lives there is supportive of many of the decisions that Putin has made,” Zolotova explains. “Myself and my immediate family don’t agree with a lot of their opinions about the war, and it’s caused a separation within the family.”
Ukrainian refugees have found shelter in nearby countries through civilians opening their homes and providing them with comfort and support during the time in which they are staying with them. Local Ukrainian families have watched their relatives flee the country and take refuge in strangers’ homes.
“I have family in Ukraine that has been forced to flee the country because of the war,” senior Lelia Kraut says. “It’s caused a lot of anxiety within my family, knowing that they’re in constant danger. They’re staying with a family in Poland right now, and we’re all extremely grateful that they’re safe.”
Despite conflicts within many families, Kraut and Zolotova agree that the war has helped them realize the importance of staying connected to their family. Kraut explains that keeping in touch with her family in Ukraine has provided both her immediate and extended family with a sense of comfort.
“The whole thing is heartbreaking to witness, even from across the globe, where I know we’re not experiencing what Ukraine and its people are going through,” Kraut says. “I’m really appreciative of all the help that CHS has been providing for Ukraine through fundraisers and online donations.”
Kraut is part of CHS’ This Club Saves Lives, whose members recently hosted a joint event April 1with the Singer-Songwriters Club to raise money for Ukraine. Nizamova performed, where she sang a traditional Ukrainian song.
“The event was a huge success,” explains Leigh Cambra, the faculty adviser for This Club Saves Lives. “We raised over $3,900 that we’re going to donate to UNICEF for their relief work in Ukraine.”
UNICEF is currently distributing heath, hygiene and emergency supplies to Ukrainian communities, as well as transporting water to areas that are heavily involved in conflict, and donations can be made at Unicef.org.