With family in Ukraine, near the Russian boarder, Hampton resident Iryana Patterson, wakes up every other hour to check her phone for updates.
The Pour Girls Restaurant owner’s father and 86-year-old grandmother, are stuck in Ukraine hiding from constant bombing.
There is no electricity or gas. Patterson said one blessing is they are able to harvest food from their farm and warm the room with their wood burning stove.
Her brother-in-law, brother, uncle and cousin cannot leave the country because the government will not let any men, ages 18-60, out of the country in case they’re needed for fighting. “All men are fighting in the war. It’s like they wake up and go to war,” she said. Her brother-in-law had a business making custom shoes. Now he helps soldiers by carrying cinder blocks and supplies, without payment.
In addition, Patterson cannot reach her brother in Russia. They normally communicated through social media until the Russian government blocked all social media.
Her sister and 11-year-old niece fled to Poland and then to Italy where their mother lives. Along the way they slept in subways and bomb shelters. The trauma has caused her niece to have nose bleeds.
As a medical professional, her sister feels torn about leaving Ukraine. She feels she needs to help the wounded.
At a refuge shelter in Italy, her mother helps out because she speaks the language. She said many don’t have proper shoes because they fled so quickly.
“She told me about a five-year-old girl who didn’t have shoes. She was given a pair that was one size too small which were painful for her to wear. So, my mother bought her a proper fitting pair,” she said.
“They don’t have underwear, female products and other basic needs that we take for granted. When don’t have these basics, you lose your self-esteem and your dignity,” Patterson said.
She has researched how to get her family out, only to discover that only her parents are eligible.
Patterson has also communicated with friends who have been hiding in a basement. “They haven’t seen the light of day in weeks. I have a two-year-old daughter, I can’t imagine telling her she can’t go outside. They just sit and hide from the bombs,” she said.