Ukraine native reflects on six months of war

Wednesday, Ukrainians marked both the six-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion and the country’s Independence Day.

For Ukrainians across the world, the war is a nightmare that just won’t end.

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“It’s been too long. It’s been dragging,” Galyna Tuttle said. “I think for me, it’s hard because I’m here but for them, even harder because it’s like every day, their everday life, people waking up and not knowing if it’s going to be the last day of their lives.”

Tuttle is a Ukraine native who now lives in Cloquet. Her brothers and mom are still in Ukraine, and she traveled back to her home country herself in May. She brought with her 14 bags of medical supplies, some of which were donated by local hospitals.

“For the surgery, needles and threads that was expired in 2015, so I was like, I don’t know if I should take it because now it’s ’22, so take all over … across the ocean, and then they will be like, ‘Oh, it’s expired. Sorry, we can’t use it.'” she said. “But I still packed, and that was like such a hot commodity. When we brought it to the hospitals, the doctors, they like bees swarmed on the honey. Those boxes, it was like Christmas morning for the doctors.”

Photo credit: Galyna Tuttle

The gratitude for the supplies went far beyond the medical staff. Tuttle brought back a note from a mom she met at a children’s hospital.

“It’s a short note, but I think it’s very touching,” she said. “It said, ‘Thank you so much for saving my baby. Thank you for the medicine and diapers. Your generosity and care is changing our lives and giving me hope.’ So it’s really that in a place and time where suffering and death — to bring some hope and care and love, it’s very important.”

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As she reflected on six months of war in her homeland, she told the story of a 96-year-old blind widow whose neighbors had grown bitter about the wartime conditions.

“Because she is a Christian, so they were saying like, ‘Where is your God? How come God is allowing this to happen?’ And then they said, ‘Your God forgot about you, and everybody forgot about you and about Ukraine. And nobody cares.’ And so when our volunteers delivered food, that was like no, God did not forgot, and people did not forgot, and people do care,” Tuttle said.

She already has one bag packed and is planning another trip to take more supplies to Ukraine this fall.

Photo credit: Galyna Tuttle