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Laura and Volodomyr Kisarets, of Rivne Ukraine, are currently visiting family in Ringgold County, and sat down with the Record News to talk about their experiences.
Laura is a 1998 graduate of Mount Ayr community high School. She is also the daughter of Carol Anne (Gilliland) and Bob Galloway.
After earning her degree in elementary education, Laura elected to do a missionary trip to Ukraine to teach English.
While teaching in the Ukraine, Laura met Volodomyr (Vova) Kisarets.
Vova was born in Ivano-Frankivsk and grew up in Oleksandriia Ukraine, the son of two teachers.
Volodomyr had earned his degree in theater and performing Arts, and was assisting Laura at the English language retreat.
The Kisarets were married, and have four children; their son, Ivan and three daughters Gabriella, Evelina, and Liliana.
The Kisarets describe themselves as a pretty typical family.
Their four children are home schooled, Ivan plays piano and the two oldest daughters play violin.
When not in school, or practicing music, the children enjoy typical sports like soccer and basketball. The family enjoys grilling dinner outside in the summertime, Christmas and New Years in the winter time to, and being with family and friends all year long.
When Volodomyr attained his master’s degree in Divinity, the Kisarets started an outreach in missionary program through Hope for the World Ministries.
As they state this has been their lifelong hope, and their way to make the world a better place.
It wouldn’t be possible to speak about their lives, without addressing what has happened in their home country.
The Kisarets explained that Ukraine has always had a difficult time relating to Russia.
They stated that this can go back to the time of the czars and the first time the Communist party appeared in Russia.
They state that even then, there was a push to remove Ukrainian identity, they say this attitude that Russians are inherently superior to Ukrainians still persist to this day.
With this in mind, they spoke of how troubles first began in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and Eastern parts of Ukraine.
The Kisarets explain however since 2014 there really hasn’t been a true lasting peace in the region.
They described how the on again off again fighting was made even worse by the covid outbreak.
Laura and Volodomyr talked about how during this time of trouble the Russian invasion began
Curiously, they spoke how for a lot of people there was a lack of fear as to be expected.
They explained it was a situation where people were under so much stress, and it was known that this was something that could really happen, so when it did, there really wasn’t a sense of panic or terror.
Volodomyr shared how the initial reaction to when explosions started happening wasn’t to immediately run. He described it as a sense of “well that wasn’t close enough, we will wait and if they get closer then we’ll take cover.”
Eventually Kisarets did relocate to Romania for the safety of their children.
They described how difficult it was to leave, considering many they know could not.
They talked about the horrors of seeing homes and businesses destroyed, and the loss of life and injuries.
Volodomyr talked about his cousin who was on the front lines.
He shared how his cousin was one of only four survivors of his military unit, and has sustained at least 7 concussions from artillery strikes.
Despite the danger, Volodomyr still goes back to the Ukraine to assist in the humanitarian effort to help refugees.
They point out that it’s a very difficult situation. In their hometown of Rivna, which has a population of about 200,000, over 20,000 refugees showed up in less than 3 days.
When asked further, they explained it’s not that they themselves, nor most of the Ukrainians they know, want someone to come save their country.
As Volodomyr described, it it’s like having a stranger in your home, a violent stranger causing problems, and all you want him to do is leave.
He elaborated furthe , that while you want the stranger to leave your home, it’s difficult to get him out, and you just want somebody to help before your house is ruined.
The Kisarets do say that despite the difficulties, they do keep Hope and Faith alive, particularly through their Church.
Even with such difficulties going on, they do seek out the good and happiness in the world where they can find it.
In conclusion Volodomyr left one piece of advice,
“What is happening in Ukraine could happen anywhere (and he listed several countries to prove the point). Too often when these things happen people are willing to say it doesn’t affect me so why bother. But remember that the world is very small, and what happens in place today can happen in another tomorrow, and we are all a lot closer than you think. We all need to open our hearts and our minds, sometimes we need to share another’s burden because we may need help with ours someday, but the most important thing is to care for each other and remember that through your faith anything is possible.”
For all that are interested, the Kisarets will be having a presentation and open discussion on Saturday the 21 at the senior center in Mount Ayr Iowa, everyone is encouraged to attend and hear from them first hand.