SUGAR LAND, Texas - As Russian forces continue on in Ukraine, residents living in the Houston area are praying for family overseas. And one local resident from Ukraine, who has been tirelessly helping aid soldiers and refugees by collecting supplies since the invasion, received some terrifying, personal news.
Viktoriya Rawlins of Sugar Land has family in Konstantinovka, which is 55 miles north of Donetsk in east Ukraine. The city has not been invaded by Russia yet, but there are rumors it’s happening soon, according to Rawlins’ family.
Unfortunately, Rawlins' parents are unable to evacuate because her 93-year-old grandmother lives with them and can’t bear the travel.
"They don't force, but they strongly recommend it that if you want to survive, you need to be evacuated," she explained.
Rawlins also showed us video of the travel from their home to the garage, down to the basement where they take shelter, adding how the outcome can’t be bright if there’s a bomb blast.
"In one side they can be protected, but on the other side, they cannot because they will be blocked. This is underground," she said. "Everything will be destroyed. It will probably be worse than Mariupol where everything is flat, and you can't see [sic] nothing there anymore."
"I can't cry or show that I am scared too, but you are like a tiger in the cage. When you want to help, you are trying to do your best, but at the same time, you cannot," she explained. "We pray that nothing bad happens. We hope that Ukraine is strong enough to handle these Russian attacks, and we will win."
During our visit, we tried reaching her family several times.
"Number is busy, too late no connection," Rawlins said after a couple of attempts.
However, we witnessed a small victory and a connection was made to her family; proof that hope is still alive.
If you'd like to assist with donations, there are two drop-off locations in the Houston area:
This article is part one of a two-part story, click here back for the second part.