‘I miss my homeland’: Native Ukrainians in Augusta hope for peace

Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 7:07 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Leaders from Russia and Ukraine met hoping for a diplomatic solution, but Ukrainian officials say there was only minor progress.

So far, the United Nations estimates over 400 civilians have died, about 800 are hurt, and millions are hoping to escape.

It’s a heartbreaking reality for native Ukrainians living here in Augusta. Thousands of miles away, they anxiously watch, hoping to hear news from their loved ones stuck in the crossfire.

We were outside the Unitarian Church of Augusta, where a group of interfaith leaders held a vigil for peace in Ukraine.

People were holding signs, waving flags with the Ukrainian blue and yellow on them, asking for peace.

Locally, we have so many people impacted by this war going on thousands of miles away.

Coming to Augusta University was an opportunity and a chance for growth for Vadym Bucha.

“At the same time, I miss my homeland, my country, and my family, especially now,” said Bucha.

Bucha is from the heart of Ukraine. He’s a graduate student studying physiology, and his family and friends are still in Kyiv.

“They are sitting and hiding in the basements. You’ve probably seen the missiles shoot at buildings and houses, and it’s more and more every day,” he said.

The place he grew up in, the place he calls home, might never be the same.

“Close your eyes and imagine the streets that you grew up in, the parks that you were sitting and laughing with your friends, and now you don’t know what’s going on there,” said Bucha.

Assistant Physiology Professor Dr. Mykola Mamenko’s family is still in Kyiv. He’s willing to return home if needed.

“Whatever my country finds me suitable for. My mom just told me my dad joined territorial defense forces, and he’s 68 years old and blind in one eye. If he can do it, then I can do it,” he said.

To watch his country fight for its freedom is inspiring.

“It’s both terrifying, worrisome, and raises this feeling of pride for the people that can stand their ground when the odds are stacked against them,” he said.

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