Freshman Ukrainian athlete, Daria Shchoma, speaks about Russian invasion

Daria Shchoma is a WLU freshman and tennis athlete from Ukraine.

Russia continues to invade Ukraine in the largest military action since World War II, causing massive destruction and casualties across the country. The Russian-Ukraine conflict has caused effects worldwide — especially for countries who depend on the region’s energy, wheat and nickel supplies which are continuing to spike up in price. But for Daria Shchoma, the effects of the war are far more severe and frightening.

Shchoma is a freshman at West Liberty University (WLU) where she majors in business administration and is an active athlete of the women’s tennis team. She is the daughter of Andrii and Taisiia and her hometown (where her family is located) is in Novomoskocsk, Ukraine.

Imagine waking up to notifications on your phone stating your country was being attacked by a neighboring country — this was Shchoma’s reality. Waking up to ten missed calls from her mother and the news of Russia’s invasion into her homeland on Feb. 24, 2022, she was in a state of pure disbelief. “I had a feeling it was just a stupid nightmare,” she said — later adding, “I feel miserable too, because I can’t do anything to make the situation better or stop the war. So, I just sit and wait [to see] what his (Putins’) next step is.”

As far as Shchoma shared, her family is safe and staying out of harm’s way. Her mother and other relatives left Ukraine to head towards Poland, but her father had to stay in Ukraine “because he can’t cross the border as he is liable for military service if he tries to leave Ukraine,” according to Schoma. She said her father is staying in Western Ukraine and waiting.

While her family, relatives and some friends have made it to safety, she still worries for her friends that have not been able to flee Ukraine and are in parts of the country that is currently in harm’s way. “When I receive the messages from them like ‘we are being bombed again and we are running to shelter now’ [for the fifth time in] a day, I am so shocked. And I don’t really understand how. To react to those messages or what to say to them,” Shchoma shared. She added saying “everything will be ok” to her friends and family is “not true to be honest and everyone knows that.”

Sitting in shock and disbelief that the Russian-Ukraine War is happening in “our time,” Shchoma is thankful she is here on the Hilltop and safe but still has concerns for her family, friends and relatives who remain in Ukraine.

In a recent article by NYTimes, Russian rockets have “rained down” all over Ukraine that have included air strikes landing dangerously close to Poland, a NATO county. The Poland border is also a “known” lifeline to Ukrainian as more than one million refugees have escaped to Poland for safety.

The war on her homeland has affected Shchoma in more ways than one. Now, she wakes up each day hoping she can still talk to her mom, dad and friends via FaceTime and that “they will be alive and safe.” She added, “This is so scary.”

Anyone who is interested in helping the Shchoma Family can do so through donating money to help supply food, water and shelter. “I am so grateful that everyone is willing to help,” said Shchoma. “None of us can stop those horrible things but if [anyone] really wants, they could [help by] transfer[ing] money. As much as you can, of course, for me and my family,” she shared. “My parents’ businesses’ are going down right now, and I don’t know how much savings they have. I am very scared about that. We will appreciate that a lot,” Shchoma said.

For more information on how you can donate money to Daria Shchoma and her family, please email her at [email protected]. She will provide you with a card number and card recipient to transfer money to.

The war has caused so much loss for Ukraine, but the country remains stronger and more united than ever. Shchoma shared a “citation” for every Ukrainian since the outbreak of the war — “Every ‘how are you?’ now equals ‘I love you’ and this is so true,” Shchoma said.