The effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict have been felt all over the world including right here on Capital’s campus.
Third-year biology major, Daryna Zaitseva, grew up in Ukraine and has been working on giving back to her hometown during this crisis with help from others in the Capital community.
Zaitseva grew up in the city of Mariupol in Ukraine and enjoyed her childhood there.
“I had a really peaceful and happy childhood,” Zaitseva said. “Just going to school…having a lot of out of school activities, like extra-curricular activities, like ballroom dancing. I used to be a professional ballroom dancer. I used to go to drawing school, I had a lot of tutors, just a lot of things.”
Russia invading Ukraine has been a possibility on Zaitseva’s mind for a long time, resulting in her closely monitoring the news.
“I was pretty much following really closely everything that’s been going on in the news…” Zaitseva said. “And so one day I just heard on the news about the president of Russia giving a speech about the situation and kind of like justifying the whole invasion, then that’s pretty much when I knew it was going to happen soon.”
After hearing this speech, Zaitseva called her mother, who still resided in Mariupol.
“That’s when I called my mom… and I told her about it. That’s when we pretty much kind of like knew that this was going to happen,” Zaitseva said. “Hours within that the explosions started going off.”
Although saddened by these events, Zaitseva and her family were not surprised by the invasion.
“Obviously everybody was scared, everybody was upset… but at the same time my mom has been volunteered for Ukrainian army for a long time so everybody kind of had a feeling that this could happen,” Zaitseva said. “We were like mentally prepared that this could happen… we just knew if that were to happen we would think of some ways to kind of get out; for my family obviously… so my mom packed a little suitcase, which is like an emergency suitcase… and it’s just things you would grab before you leave the house so passports, documents, money, like first aid, stuff like that.”
With all the chaos and destruction going on in Ukraine, Zaitseva wanted to help.
“I came up with an idea to support Ukraine in the way I could from far away… [my advisor] introduced me to GSA club and we were talking for a couple weeks about how we could organize or what we could do,” Zaitseva said. “We had a lot of ideas… we decided to do a bake sale just because it’s more traditional and we just felt like it’d be easier to get done.”
The bake sale took place in March and garnered a lot of support.
“I had a lot of faculty members donate… food, donate cookies, donate, you know, like baked goods… they just wanted to support me in that way,” Zaitseva said.
The bake sale received a lot of support from students and staff and raised $2,000. The funds went to an organization in Ukraine that helps displaced refugees.
“I’m hoping to see if we can do something again in the near future to see what can be done…” Zaitseva said. “All the funds that were raised were sent to the organization in Ukraine that helps displaced refugees from the eastern part of Ukraine, from my hometown Mariupol, and mostly they focus on families with kids and orphans.”
Zaitseva has been in contact with the organization, who has benefited from the money raised by the Capital community.
“They were already telling us how they were able to buy some food and diapers and stuff like that with our money,” Zaitseva said.
Although the Capital community helped out by raising money, there is still a lot more that can be done. Zaitseva hopes students and staff continue to pay attention to what is happening in Ukraine.
“I feel like the attention starts fading a little bit and that is really concerning because things did not really get better…” Zaitseva said. “I really think people should be paying more attention, doing more research, should be trying to find a lot more ways to help.”
Zaitseva wanted to add that she appreciates her professors for being understanding and giving her and other Ukrainian students grace during this time.
“Even those little things really matter and in those little ways you could be helping us kind of cope with what we’re going through,” Zaitseva said.
If students or faculty want to get involved with fundraising for Ukraine, they can email Zaitseva at firstname.lastname@example.org.