A Wicker Park woman plans to return to Ukraine in the coming days to help fight Russia, saying she bought a one-way ticket as she seeks to defend the country where she was born.
Maria, who is a trained musician living in the Chicago area, plans to travel to the Polish border. She then plans to cross into Ukraine, hoping to join the country’s fight against Russia.
It was a life-changing decision that she didn’t have to think about.
“It’s harder when you’re not around,” she said. “All my people are here. I prefer to go out there and do things that need to be done.
Watching the pictures on TV – and hearing the stories – fueled her desire to return to Ukraine.
“I am strong and stubborn,” she says. “I also speak all the languages of the region. I speak Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, German, English, so I can be helpful.
About 100 people gathered at St. Nicholas to call for peace and pray for an end to the war that is 5,000 miles away but felt so deeply here in Chicago. Reporting by NBC 5’s Alex Maragos.
Maria says her husband is traveling with her. Their plan is to get married before they leave next week.
“I really didn’t want him to leave, but he didn’t want to let me go on my own,” she said.
Maria says she now uses her wedding registry to help collect items for Ukrainian soldiers. She also says that although she plans to go to Ukraine to join the fight, she also has hope that peace can be achieved before she arrives.
“Hopefully when I get there on Monday it will all be over,” she said. “I hope so.”