Nataliya Rezek works as an urgent care nurse in Pierre, but she is originally from Ukraine and much of her extended family still lives in the country. Since the Russian invasion earlier this year, she has wanted to help and began collecting donations from people across South Dakota. Now, she is in her home country, personally delivering these items to those who need them.
This has become a familiar sound for Nataliya Rezek who is visiting her family in the western part of Ukraine.
“We have my high school very close by and they have appropriate place for people, civilians can just hide, they never give you any warning that it’s coming, so you have to be ready day or night, you have to be ready,” said Rezek.
Rezek arrived in Ukraine with donations from South Dakota, including medical equipment and money. Since arriving, she has had more items shipped to her.
“So basically we are talking about very simple things, syringes, needles, ace bandages, aspirin, Tylenol, ibuprofen, you know, something that people need on front lines,” said Rezek.
She left her husband and two sons behind in South Dakota.
“So I was actually debating about coming home or not, and of course, my family, my American family all my coworkers and everybody else was very concerned about my safety, you know, traveling to Ukraine right now, it’s not an easy road, it’s not easy travel, it’s hours and hours of uncomfortable traveling, and it’s not safe either. I just decided for myself it’s my civic duty as Ukrainian born to be here right now,” said Rezek.
“I mean it’s hard, but it’s just one of those things that we’ve been ever since February when everything started happening, we were just trying to figure out a way that I mean could she go back, was it safe and you know, in talking, she talked a lot with her dad and brother and they both kind of signed off and said yes it’s ok to come,” said David Gall, Rezek’s husband.
Now that she is there, the challenge is getting the items to the frontlines.
“You have to have appropriate either car or van that can go through lots of mud and that’s a problem so we are kind of waiting for somebody who is going and we are just waiting for the moment you know when they have enough space in their van so we can put the package like this, you know, we can kind of sneak in,” said Rezek.
She is doing all she can to help those fighting for their country.
“I hope I never have to experience this in my life, but unfortunately, this is their reality and you can’t run away from it,” said Rezek.