Brooklyn Catholic Family Caught in Ukrainian Conflict Pleads for Aid

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By Christine Persichette

A Russian missile attack on a Ukrainian children’s hospital has left dozens dead, intensifying the chaos in Kyiv. Amidst the turmoil, a Catholic family from Brooklyn, visiting their ailing grandmother in Zhytomyr, is desperately seeking safety while urging for more international aid to help Ukraine.

Dozens were killed after a Russian missile attack hit a Ukrainian children’s hospital. Kyiv is scrambling to pick up the pieces, and a Catholic family from Brooklyn is in the middle of the chaos.

They’re in the city of Zhytomyr, which is just over 80 miles from Kyiv. Natalia Pastushenko brought her three children there to see their grandma, who is fighting cancer. Soon after arriving, they heard the air raid sirens.

“Once we came, I heard the sirens,” said Igor Ozminskyy. “We went to the house to find cover.”

Ten-year-old Igor Ozminskyy, an altar boy at Guardian Angel Church in Brighton Beach, is currently in Ukraine with his younger siblings and his mom, visiting their grandma.

“Every time I hear sirens, I feel like a missile is either gonna hit this house or somewhere near us,” said Alexander Ozminskyy.

They arrived just as dozens of Russian missiles bombarded cities across the war-torn country Monday. The deadly strike at that children’s hospital in Kyiv was just 83 miles away.

“They don’t care where they’re bombing – kids or adults, or they don’t care absolutely – it’s pure evil,” said Natalia Pastushenko.

Natalia Pastushenko moved to Brooklyn 15 years ago. Her three young children are enrolled at St. Peter Catholic Academy. But she says her mother won’t leave her home, even though previous missile strikes have come close. A school just a half mile away was destroyed by one last year. But the kids know what to do when danger comes close.

“Go hide—I would go look for cover,” said Alexander. The room behind us has two walls all around, so I go there and just stay there until the sirens stop.”

Natalia is hoping the U.S. will do more to help her homeland.

“Only Ukraine is fighting for the whole world, and at least the United States give us more air defense system and maybe more tanks, more ammunition to help us to fight this devil,” said Pastushenko.

In the meantime, they hold out hope.

“I hope the war ends,” said Solomia Ozminska.

And they pray every single day.

“We are praying for Ukraine, for Ukrainian soldiers, for Ukrainian volunteers,” Pastushenko added. “We hope this awful war to be over soon, but it doesn’t look like it’s gonna be over soon.”