CONWAY, Ark. — 18 years ago Dr. Kateryna Pitchford moved to Arkansas. For the last seven years, Dr. Pitchford has been a professor at Central Baptist College in Conway.
However, for the first 21 years of her life, Pitchford lived in Dnipro, Ukraine which is where some of her family and friends currently live.
“I ask them every day, how are you doing? They tell me they have air sirens all the time,” Pitchford said. “As of right now, they’re okay. But, they’re seriously considering leaving.”
Dnipro is located in the central/eastern part of Ukraine. Pitchford said that if the city was more north or south, then she probably wouldn’t be able to communicate with them. However, they still have WiFi, but still are in a dangerous situation.
On Friday, March 11 there were three Russian airstrikes that caused severe damage to the city and killed one person.
“My cousin’s son in Kyiv would go to the basement of his apartment complex all the time,” Pitchford added. “People in Dnipro would go to the basement of their house or sleep in the hallways to get farther away from the windows.”
“I was really worried that they wouldn’t have enough food,” Pitchford continued. “The first few days my friends and family went to buy a lot of food. A few days later they said the trucks wouldn’t come to the store so there was no food in the store. Then there was a little food in the store. You just don’t know what is coming and what can happen.”
The United States and Arkansas are doing what they can to help Ukraine. On Monday, March 14, Governor Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Michael Preston, and Pitchford all went to Camden to thank Arkansas aerospace and defense workers for helping build parts and materials for weapons that Ukraine will use to defend itself against Russia.
“They don’t necessarily know the lives they save because they’re in Camden, Arkansas,” Pitchford said. “It was important for me to address the people who work and live in Camden because they make a big difference and save lives.”
“I can see on YouTube or different social media platforms the Ukrainian army using those defense missiles,” Pitchford added. “I know they are made in my new home country. It makes me feel great.”
To show his appreciation, Governor Hutchinson gave Dr. Pitchford a signed copy of the United States constitution that frameworks our freedom.
Even though Arkansas is her current home, Pitchford can’t help but feel for all the people she knows in Ukraine.
“I do feel a little guilty because I am here in the United States and I have everything I need to raise my daughters and feel free,” Pitchford said. “I feel very saddened for my friends and family who worked so hard for everything they have in life now have to face the possibility of dying or leaving everything behind.”