CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On Friday, Ukrainians and Americans came together to show continued support for Ukraine against Russia's invasion.
At Water's Edge Park, more than two dozen people gathered for the 365 Days of Freedom Rally.
“Ukrainians are not going to give up, never! They’re not going to give up as we will not give up here,” Tetyana Stromer, a Ukrainian now teaching at Veteran's Memorial High School said.
The rally is about showing Ukraine's support is still out there for them. Just gathering together, means something to Ukrainians.
“If you see on the news Ukrainian flag or anything that’s mentioned about Ukraine and this is giving us, to Ukrainians, so much support," Olena Kravchenko said with a translator. "Even the smallest word, it's very important for us to hear that.”
Kravchenko is another Ukrainian who just left her home country in the first week of February.
“It was terror at first and you began to get used to it,” she described when the invasion began in February 2022.
Kravchenk said on the first day everyone immediately had a sense of wanting to help. She helped people get groceries and clothing. Soldiers stood on the outskirts of her city, trying to avoid Russian tanks from entering.
Necessities became hard to come by and she would be without electricity for long periods. When the air raid sirens went off, she needed to head into the basement.
"The siren would sound for three hours and you start to fall asleep to that," she said.
Feb. 24 will mark one year of the invasion. Nearly a year into the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the message at the rally was, the spirit of Ukraine is alive and well. Ukrainians ask you to keep supporting them.
“Ukrainians are fighting for their freedom for the whole world," said Stromer. "They’re fighting for good things. They don’t want to be under tyranny and Russia is doing really wrong things to those people."
Stromer is from Kyiv. Her family remains in Ukraine.
"They ask me not to bring up that question, how are you? Because it's not good, they cannot say we're good because there's no electricity, no heat," she said.
Stromer added her brother lives on the 20th floor of a condominium. When air raid sirens go off he takes his family and pet to the bunker, taking every flight of stairs. Lately, they've stopped going, Stromer said it's because he was told even if a rocket hits, they could be buried in the rubble.
Whether it’s permanent or temporary, Corpus Christi has become a home to those fleeing from the violence.
Anna Biriukova has been in Corpus Christi for a year now. The 15-year-old was able to leave Ukraine 12 days before the invasion began. She still has a few family members there.
"It's hard for me to be here," she said.
Biriukova said she's fortunate to have had a lot of support since she arrived in Corpus Christi.
“Teachers and classmates, oh you’re from Ukraine how is it, what do you think about this? And how is your family? It’s really emotional,” she said.
Stromer wants people to keep the support alive, and pray for those that have lost their lives, those who lost their homes and more.
The group Ukrainian Corpus Christi organized the event. They said you can donate to the Charity Foundation of Serhiy Prytula. There are various places you can donate your money through this foundation.
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