For nearly 30,000 Ukrainian immigrants living in LA County watching the war back home is pure agony.
Sofiya Brodovska, 25, who now lives in Burbank, begins every day searching for news about the war in Ukraine.
Her home city of Kyiv has been under attack for nearly a week. Some of her relatives couldn’t get out before the bombs started falling. Now they speak to her from a bomb shelter over video chat.
Her cousin and uncle are among those hunkering down in a parking garage beneath their apartment building.
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She points out the mattresses and blankets on the floor where they sleep with their neighbors while listening to emergency alerts on their phones.
"If they hear sirens going off that’s when they run and hide in the bomb shelters.”
Some of her relatives did pack up their belongings and left Kyiv. Her parents, sister and grandmother are now staying at a hotel in western Ukraine, away from the fighting.
Her 14-year-old sister says it was a terrifying journey past tanks and Russian soldiers.
“I was very scared because my mom said the war is started," she said.
During the call, her mother breaks the news that Sofiya’s 26-year-old brother is on his way back to Kyiv against his father’s wishes. He’s gone to fight the Russians.
"He’s not just going to go there and hide. He feels like he has to go and fight," Sofiya said.
Sofiya wants western leaders to institute a no fly zone over Ukraine. She feels like Ukrainians are fighting for the whole free world.
She just graduated from Cal State LA, and had planned to return home in June.
“I love my country and Kyiv so much, It's hard to realize I don't have a home to go back to," she said.