PHOENIX - As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, a Ukrainian foreign exchange student in Arizona has started a fundraiser for her family's business back home.
Although she is thousands of miles away from Ukraine, Dana Furman hopes to still make a difference.
Furman attends Paradise Valley High School as a senior. What was supposed to be a year of culture and excitement, has turned into anxiety, as she never imagined a war would break out back home.
"At first, I couldn’t even believe that it was happening for real," said Furman. "It was like a nightmare. I want to just wake up and realize it’s not real, but then, I was sad and terrified."
Furman's family lives in Kyiv, and they tell her they have been hearing a lot of gunshots and bombings. Furman;'s family runs a factory there that makes seats for ambulances and public transportation. Since the invasion began, they have switched to making bulletproof vests and sleeping bags for Ukrainian soldiers
"They need funding to continue making it, to pay for materials and pay the workers, so I decided to help as much as I can," said Furman.
Furman's host family in Phoenix is trying to keep her as calm as possible, and keep her mind off what is happening overseas.
"It was pretty bad for her the first, like, three or four days," said Robert Hartling. "She was up crying all night long, just because she didn’t know what was going on, but she’s been able to have communication with her family, so they helped out a lot. It’s pretty much put her life in turmoil now because she probably, possibly won’t be going back home now, so she’s probably going to be here for at least a year."
For now, Furman is taking things one day at a time, and even though she is far from home, she is thankful to be able to help her family.
"If people help even a little bit, it’s going to be a huge help, if everyone helps a little bit," said Furman.
"I’m really proud of her," said Hartling. "My wife and I just like how strong and motivated she is."
Furman has been in Arizona since August, and is supposed to head back to Ukraine, but with the war going on, that’s all up in the air. Her host family said Furman's family wants her to stay out of the county for safety. In fact, Furman has actually been accepted to a college in Canada for next year.
Continuing Coverage: Russia's Invasion of Ukraine
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