Zaporizhzhya, also known as Zaporozhye, Ukraine has been a vital region for the Country for centuries. Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant is one of the largest hydroelectric plants in Ukraine and the largest on the Dnieper river. It is also a major industrial area with a major railway running through the region. hosts multiple tours to cathedrals and historical sites and TripAdvisor has a list for top 15 things to do in Zaporizhzhya. In 2021, the population was approximately 732,000 people. Everyone lived normal lives prior to 2014. At that time there were tensions with Russia but no one really expected them to invade, killing many civilians and committing various heinous war crimes.

Artem was born in Zaporozhye and has lived there for most of his life, leaving to attend university in Poland and then returning. He lived alone and was prospering as a deputy director in the finance industry. He describes Zaporozhye as a “cool” city with kind people. He and most others would have never imagined Russia would attack his country by bombing civilians.

Life will never be the same for Artem, Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine, and the world after the fighting finishes. There will be forever scars, visible and invisible. We shall never forget what is happening to innocent people in Ukraine.

When the invasion began, he was in shock, couldn’t believe that it was reality. His first reaction after the shock was to help evacuate his family. He helped his mother leave but his father refused to leave his country. Neither, Artem or his father can enlist in the military due to health issues. Artem went to the military registration and enlistment office but was turned away because of his health. He witnessed long lines of volunteers ready to defend their home.

Artem has been living at his grandmother's house alone since the start of the war and until the start of 2023, almost a year of hearing the sounds of war and living in fear. In his opinion, the later parts of the war have been more frightening than the initial invasion. “You won’t get used to war, it’s still scary for life and the future!” He says he is often woken up by the sounds of rockets and has been living nearly a year without lights.

He never had the intention to leave his country but he dreams of having a family and a career. That is not possible in Ukraine and won’t be for a long time. He also longs to assist his family in providing them a new life with protection and comfort. For him to be able to leave the country as he is in the age of mandatory military service, he has to present many documents proving he has been approved to move to the US as well as pay money to cross the border. He used to have above the average in savings prior to the war but with sending money to assist his family and for his own welfare, he has little left. There is no work so no income to raise the funds to pay to leave. He was able to find online work to generate enough to pay for his exit.

From spending his days working hard and evenings with friends to being alone in a house constantly in fear, hearing bombs in the near distance. It can’t even be imagined the toll it has taken on his physical health, which was already not the best, and his mental health. He heard about the Uniting 4 Ukraine program from his friend, Anisiya, who has been in Minnesota since the middle of July. He has known her for three years after meeting at a restaurant in Dnipro. They used to be able to see each other everyday and now it has been over half a year since they have been in the same room.

Photo Courtesies: Britannica, Zaporizhzhia City Council, Sergiy Lavrov,  REUTERS/Stringer, and New York Times