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The Conversation

American living in Ukraine says he intends to stay put and ride things out

Ukraine rally
Catherine Cruz
/
HPR

The situation in Ukraine is so far and yet so close for those who have ties to families there. The Conversation stopped by the park at Magic Island where the group Hawaii Stands with Ukraine sets up a table to provide support to anyone who needs it.

There is music, art and conversation in their native language. That's where we met with Valeriya Kamphaus and her golden retriever Odesa, named after the port city where her family is from.

Kamphaus says folks come out to support each other during this stressful time, worrying about their family and friends. Her family is safe for now.

"There is no way we can just stay out of it, you know, pretend like nothing's going on," she said. "It's very hard now to run our lives as if nothing happens because that's not the way it is."

No one knows better than those who remain in Ukraine. The Conversation reached across the globe on the internet to talk to an American living in the port city of Mykolaiv, or Nikolaev, in southern Ukraine.

Bill Keesling has visited Hawai'i over the years and retired in Ukraine six years ago. He's a childhood friend of Kailua resident Larry Bartley.

Keesling is currently safe but has lived with the sirens and rockets since the start of the invasion. He said he intends to stay put and try to ride things out.

"The odds of hitting me are slim. I get water delivered, always have here — drinking water, that's still available. They have trucks with tanks every three or four blocks here all day long where you can get water to wash dishes," he said. "We have not lost the internet. We lost power one time for 12 hours."

Keesling said while he can hear explosions in the distance, there are reports of very large explosions in the city of Odesa.

This interview aired on The Conversation on May 2, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1

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