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Student praying for peace, family’s safety following Russian invasion

| March 2, 2022
Tuscarawas Central Catholic junior Anastasia Didenko, a Ukranian exchange student, says she hasn't been getting much sleep since Russia invaded the nation. (Photo by Nancy Molnar, The Times-Reporter)

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (March 2, 2022) – A Ukrainian teen who has been spending her junior year at Tuscarawas Central Catholic is describing the days since the Russian military invaded the nation as the worst she has ever experienced.

17-year-old Anastasia Didenko says her parents and younger sister are safe for now, although she fears she may not have a home or a family to go back to if the attacks continue.

“You think that every conversation could possibly be the last conversation that you have, you know, and every I love you. And in the mornings, your friends, they don’t text you ‘good morning.’ They text you, ‘We survived this night. I’m alive.'”

Didenko went from classroom to classroom Friday updating her fellow students on the situation and letting them know how to support the people of Ukraine.

“Silence, it is violence right now, and people, they need to know what is going on and they need to talk about this,” she says. “People can support us by spreading the word and donating. Every dollar counts, and just a dollar can save a life.”

She has been praying for her family’s continued safety and a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

“It feels like I’m sleeping, and I don’t feel it because I’m here but I get into reality when I talk to my mom, and I hear explosions.”

Principal Jenn Calvo says the school is accepting monetary donations to support the relief efforts in Ukraine, which will be combined with the more than $1,400 the senior class raised with Monday’s Ukrainian Spirit Day. You can also make a financial contribution at Lock 7 Hair Studio in Bolivar, which is owned and operated by the family hosting Didenko.  

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