By Victoria Gaither
Vermont is more than 4,500 miles away from Ukraine, but for Daniela Blaga Carr, it might as well be at her back door in Mendon.
“My home country is Romania, which borders Ukraine on the northern side. I grew up very close to the Ukrainian border,” said Carr.
To watch what is happening on the news takes her breath away, she said.
“In the year 2022, I’m shocked to see tanks rolling into cities. I thought we’d come a long way since the world wars of the past,” she said.
Carr and her husband and children have lived in Mendon since 2012, but she remembers walking the streets of Ukraine and having coffee in cafes. To see bombs hitting apartment buildings, maternity wards and homes brings tears to her eyes. She said she doesn’t understand why lessons from the past are still repeating themselves.
“I have a friend with family in Ukraine and heard their stories of having to evacuate as refugees to Moldova,” Carr said.
Carr’s mother was scheduled to go back home to Romania for Easter, but she will stay in America for now.
“I’m very grateful that my mother is currently here with me; that is a relief,” she said.
In Killington, Andrew Gieda is glued to his phone, watching videos and news of the bombing in Ukraine.
Gieda, the owner of InStone Spa, grew up in Belarus.
Looking up in the sky, he said, “When I hear an airplane in the sky, I stop and think about what the Ukrainians are going through.”
Gieda has the Ukrainian flag flying outside his home and is in shock at what Russian President Valamdin Putin is doing to Ukraine.
“What gives him the right to do this?” he said. “We watch in horror with what is happening.”
Since the invasion, he has talked with a friend from Poland every day. He is getting first-hand information in real-time as to what is happening. Poland, like Romania, is taking in refugees from Ukraine.
Gieda sent $5,000 to his friend who is helping with refugee efforts, whether it be gas or food, anything to help his Ukrainian brothers and sisters.
“Although I’m here in Killington, I am with the Ukrainian people,” he said.
Despite everything, Gieda has hope.
“The Ukrainian people are tough,” he said. “They will fight. They will fight for their country. Putin will not win.”