A local family offers a window into the invasion of Ukraine

Christian Groman, who grew up in Bluffton, Ohio and is currently studying mechanical engineering at Ohio Northern University, spoke to the icon about his family members who live in western Ukraine and their experiences since the start of the invasion by Russian forces on February 24, 2022. Some 1.5 million Ukrainians have fled the county at the time of writing.

Icon: Are your family members still at home?

Groman: My grandparents live in western Ukraine, 15 minutes from the Hungarian border…. But they are home to three families from eastern Ukraine.

Icon: From what I understand, Ukraine is almost the size of Texas.

Groman: It’s 44 million people. It takes five or six hours to cross the country by car.

Icon: Do you think your family and friends in Ohio are well informed about what’s going on in Ukraine?

Groman: I love talking about Ukraine. It’s not just about what’s happening now. When I go on trips, everyone is interested in knowing what life is like there. I love showing pictures of what I do there and of the family and friends I get to visit.

I always say Ukrainians are just very caring and hospitable…. I talk to my family and friends who I haven’t spoken to in months or years, and it’s like I’m picking up where you left off.

Icon: Is it easy to stay in touch?

Groman: I call my grandparents every day, especially with what’s going on…. This has been going on since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea…. My grandparents say [the invasion] unites the Ukrainian people and everyone wonders what they can do to help.

Icon: Do you have any recommendations for Ohioans, what can we do to help?

Groman: The two most important things you can do is to keep praying for Ukraine and the people there. Think of them and, if you are lucky enough, help financially…. And just learn about the Ukrainian people as a whole and understand that they are a very proud people who are willing to do just about anything to protect the people and the ideals they hold dear .

People contacted me to ask how my family was doing. I know my family there, my mother (Irina) here and I really appreciate the outpouring of support for the Ukrainian people…. If you want to support Ukraine financially, do some research and make sure the money is reaching the Ukrainian people.

Attached photo: Christian Groman visited his family in Ukraine in January 2022. This photo shows him top left with his grandparents, cousins, mother Irina and father-in-law Jeff Burkholder on Christmas Eastern Orthodox.

He notes that people asked him when he was returning to Ohio, as troops were already massing at the borders.

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