LHS students and their connection with Ukraine


Photo provided by Pxfuel

The flag of Ukraine, the Country currently under attack by Russia and home to relatives of multiple LHS students.

Katie Jensen, Staff Writer

Living in South Dakota, many people may be able to dismiss the constant updates and heartbreaking news about Ukraine. Some may think the situation does not directly influence them or others may just like to imagine it is not happening, out of sight out of mind. However, for two LHS students, this is not an option. 

LHS senior Hannah Dumansky’s dad, his two older sisters and most of her family escaped due to religious persecution of the Soviet Union. Dumansky’s uncle, aunt and cousins have not had the opportunity to escape but her family is in close contact with them. Alina Zatrika, LHS junior, has a similar story. Zatrika’s parents grew up in Ukraine, and she was even born there. A few family members have moved with her to the U.S., but the majority of her family remains in Ukraine. Despite these two students ending up at LHS, their connection with Ukraine is huge.

Dumansky’s family has experienced what many may consider to be the worst of this situation. Despite losing their jobs, Duamansky’s uncle, who is a pastor of a church, continues to feed and house over 3,000 refugees escaping from the east with the money her family has been able to send. With the trauma they experience such as hearing sirens constantly for weeks and witnessing the destruction of families and homes, Duamansky’s family continues to take care of others. 

Zatrika expressed a similar situation with her family. Her aunt experienced the trucking business she had been building for years go down in flames. Her grandma who lives further from the main part of the chaos has been able to house two college kids who came home with her cousins because their parents lived in occupied areas. When these children couldn’t go home to their family, Zatrika’s grandma opened her doors for them.

Considering what Dumansky and Zatrika’s families are going through, there is no doubt that they are impacted even 5,000 miles away. They have to hear how much danger their family is in while still having to live a normal life and being surrounded by people who do not know what they are going through is very hard. 

“It’s still surreal to hear my family talk about how they can hear bombs and missiles flying around,” said Zitrika. 

While these circumstances are nowhere near ideal, there can still be positives to look at through this situation. 

“It is definitely hard to continue with normal activities and come to school like everything is fine when you know that the people you love are in a warzone,” said Dumansky. “On the positive side, this whole situation has brought my family much closer together, and it is truly a beautiful thing to have people that will support you even when it feels like the world is ending.” 

As high schoolers, it may be easy to feel helpless when hearing these stories; however, there are still small and simple things that anyone can do to make a difference. Dumansky expresses concern about the big organizations a lot of people are donating to right now. Instead, she offers that if people are to donate money, the safest way would be through a local nonprofit or someone who has direct connections to real people in Ukraine. The most critical problem they are facing right now is getting food and water, so donating anything would be beneficial. She also has solutions that do not involve money which is perfect for anyone who does not have the means to donate but still wants to take action during this time.

“I have letter templates to our representatives that petition for disaster relief and increased aid for refugees; the more our community expresses concern for what is going on, the more likely it is that the government will help,” said Dumansky.

Zatrika also allows other ways to help during this time that don’t involve financials. She wants people to be aware of the situation at hand rather than fighting about “what could have been” is the best solution.

“The best way to help would be to get information from unbiased sources and not let politics influence the fact that real people are dying, because at this point it doesn’t matter who would have done what had they been elected,” said Zatrika.

Zantrika and Dumansky’s family continue to help others despite their situation. It is more important than ever to remember that the people you hear about in these news stories are real and are fighting every day for safety. Helping in any way during this time is essential in order for them to continue being safe and healthy. Continuing to be educated on this topic through reliable news sources while also being empathetic to those in this situation is the first step; however, donating and writing to officials is a way to make a big impact that will directly help those in need.