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News Article
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Crisis in Ukraine Hits Home
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor

Holding the national flag of Ukraine, left to right, Kyle Kovalenko, Damien Kovalenko,

and Olena Kulbachna fear for the safety of family and friends in war-torn country.


            As the crisis in Ukraine continues to worsen, the concern and worries of area friends and families of those caught up in the bloodshed and bombings continue to grow.  In most cases, that concern has grown to fear as they search for ways to help their families caught up in the Russian invasion.

            Damien Kovalenko, of Pennsburg, and son Kyle Kovalenko of East Greenville have family in Ukraine.  Damien came to the United States to study 30 years ago and has made it his home ever since.  Damien was born in Kharkiv.  Kyle was born in Sellersville but has strong ties to his Ukrainian relatives.  They fear for family members who live throughout Ukraine. Damien talked to relatives holed up in bomb shelters on Monday. 

            Olena Kulbachna, of Trumbauersville, has family in the war-torn country as well.  She was born in Kyiv and has lived in the United States for 20 years.  She fears for her mother and son, who escaped the current bombings in the Ukraine capital.  They are sheltered in place with friends in a nearby village, hunkering down with four other families in the same house.  As of yesterday, 11 more people from Kharkiv were expected to move into the same house.  Olena also fears for her other friends and relatives there.

            Olena has worked hard to stay in contact with her family every half-hour.  Sometimes, she doesn't get through. 

            Olena spoke of how the people of Ukraine feel like "they don't have a past and you don't have a future.  Money means nothing.  They live just this moment and feel that help is not coming." 

            She told the story of a friend suffering from an illness, who was forced to stay in a basement filled with mold.  She said her friend was afraid that she would die in two weeks from the mold.

            Olena said "everybody tells me it's scary."  Many villages don't have water or electricity.  There are people who don't have access to bomb shelters or a basement who tape and cover their windows and sleep on the floor, in a corner of their home, hoping that might protect them.  Many people are just hoping they wake up tomorrow morning.

            From the village her mother and son evacuated to, her son makes Molotov cocktails while her mother makes camouflage nets for the military and anyone else who needs one.  Olena's mother was just seven-years-old when the Nazis started bombing Ukraine in 1941.  She was so scared she couldn't move.  The current Russian attacks remind her of the horror she felt as a child.

            Kyle, expressing a Ukraine defiance that we've read and heard about, fears for his relatives.  He said, "Russians are specifically bombing areas to disrupt supply lines ... since Sunday they started bombing residential areas on purpose.  A small village near Mariupol city was completely destroyed with many children and adults killed." 

            Kyle remembers visiting Ukraine when he was 10-years-old.  He remarked how beautiful it was and the horror he feels when he sees current photos and videos.  He said, "It's terrible knowing that it's my family being bombed – and what for?"

            Damien shared how his nephew and others loaded women, children, and elderly citizens and transported them to the Romanian border.  It is not safe to travel in the country and no formal supply chains currently exist from east to west in Ukraine.  Men 18 to 60 years old cannot leave the country so his nephew and others remained and are delivering food, medications, and other supplies across the battle-scarred land.  He told of how his nephew could hear bombs exploding as they left for their treacherous journeys. 

            When asked what goes through their minds when they see the horrific photos of the Russian bombings Olena said, "I don't know what day of the week it is.  I don't eat or sleep.  I am shaking at the magnitude of the drama; it is too much to handle."

            Damien felt anger at Western civilizations for failing to help.  He said, "Putin emboldened the West for money – for weapons.  The neighboring countries became cowardly and complacent."  Too many voices from the left and right saying that it's none of our business.

            Pointing out Russia's Georgia invasion and Crimean takeover, Kyle was angered that Vladimir Putin is allowed to keep pecking away at neighboring countries in his attempt to rebuild the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) – the former Soviet Union.  Kyle said it's bloody and people are going to die.  Killing women and children is unforgivable.

            Damien added, "Putin is diabolical and evil …If you don't want to get involved, eventually it will cost you more."     

            Local people who want to help, but may be apprehensive about fake groups or organizations, can still donate.

            Olena, Damien, and Kyle shared the following places to donate: St. Philip's Orthodox Church, 1970 Clearview Road, Souderton, Revived Soldiers Ukraine (, and National Bank of Ukraine (  You can contact Damien Kovalenko at 267-261-0975 for more information.

            Olena added her thanks to QNB Bank, Quakertown, for waiving international transfer fees when she was sending money to help the people of Ukraine.  She also thanked her former co-workers who contacted her to find out how they could help.






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