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Days aren't easier, but courage is empowered for Ukrainian man with Northeast Ohio ties working to keep family safe

Roman Vydro, who studied in Westlake, is fueled by the death and destruction he's witnessed in homeland

CLEVELAND — Things aren’t getting easier for Roman Vydro.

“Got worse to some extent,” he said.

That’s his life now in Ukraine as he works to keep his family and friends safe from the attack launched last month by Russian invasion forces.

“Pretty much a lot of my friends have managed to get out of Kharkiv at least,” he said. “My parents are still on the go.”

Vydro, 27, was born and raised in the Ukraine, but he has a Northeast Ohio connection. He lived in Westlake in 2010 as a student and has maintained contact with friends here.

He’s been sharing his account of the invasion from his native Ukraine with 3News ever since the Russian invasion unfolded.

He said Friday that his parents tried to stay in their hometown of Kharkiv, but they made a last-minute decision to leave the country all together.

 “They’re on this journey to cross the border and go to my sister who lives in Europe,” Vydro told 3News.

Vydro is helping coordinate their whereabouts and their safety. But, he said, in a situation when some may feel anxious or overwhelmed, he’s become empowered by the pain, suffering and destruction of his homeland.

 “My emotional state, it just froze,” he said. “There’s this initial spike of panic, got easily transformed into anxiety. This anxiety, once exposed to injustice…it turns into anger.

  “Anger combined with a plan produces courage.”

His mindset is how he and thousands of others are working to move people to safety while getting much-needed supplies to those who remain.

 “We have contacts in different places where it’s really tough,” Vydro said.

But as the military attacks pound Ukraine every day, he works to combat the challenges he and his countrymen now face.

 “Today we learned that one of these contacts and people that were receiving, who we were kind of collaborating with, in a city up north, they just died,” he said. “It’s a really difficult thing to deal with.”

Overcoming the fears of gunfire, damage to roads and building, have made his work and life moving people and supplies harder.

But while life isn’t getting easier, one common thread is making his work less taxing: Unity.

 “It is actually getting easier for us to work and fight back, despite the fact that massive destruction is happening,” he said.

*Editor's Note: The video in the player above is from a previous report. 


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