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Ukrainian family who fled in 2014 watches war from Olathe home

Anxious days and nights for the Yeromenko's
The Yeromenko Family
Posted at 7:58 PM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 23:10:07-05

OLATHE, Kan. — One family in Olathe, Kansas, is sharing their story as the war in Ukraine is deeply affecting those in the Kansas City metropolitan area originally from the country.

In her Olathe home, Iryna Yeromenko is glued to her phone, waiting for another update from a cousin in Ukraine.

"I get to hear, I'm alive and this is what I’m doing, she records a message once a day for me," she said.

She shared one of those messages with KSHB 41, as her cousin is currently administering 24/7 humanitarian aid to the country. Yeromenko sends messages of her own as well from thousands of miles away.

"I wake up and spend about two hours sending a message, basically, 'How are you? Are you alive?' to the people that I know there," she said.

Those she knows, are standing firm.

"She said she will stay and fight until the end," Yeromenko said of the cousin she heard from on Monday.

Yeromenko's family is originally from Donetsk, Ukraine - she's lived in the Kansas City metro for eight years. Past and present worlds collided at Saturday's demonstration for Ukraine on the Plaza.

"That just lifts me, really helps me believe that possibly there’s hope somewhere on the other side as well," she said.

The Yeromenko's have seen hardship in their country firsthand - the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity forced their move to the United States.

"We are now green card holders and we were probably one of the first people in the States who got political asylum," Iryna said.

Her son Illya was 10 years old when they left.

"I was told to hide under a blanket in the car. And you know, there was a really big rush to get to the airport. I didn't really know what was happening until after we were already in the US," he said.

He's 18 now - of age to fight in Ukraine's military.

"I think I'd be pretty active," Illya said, when asked what he would do if in his homeland right now.

The Yeromenko's are actively helping family abroad and actively educating neighbors at home.

"If you haven’t done so, consider talking to your families, consider talking to your kids. It’s not just Ukraine’s situation. It concerns everybody," Iryna said.

It is a war in their homeland, deeply felt in their Kansas home.