Editor’s note: This is another is a series of stories we have been carrying from Sveta Brinkmeier (maiden name Vostrikova), a native of Ukraine now living in Waconia, who has been sharing the struggles of her family still residing in the war-torn country.
Sveta Brinkmeier had been urging her mother to flee Ukraine soon after the Russian invasion started, but she had been reluctant and concerned about the huge wave of refugees. Finally, while staying in staying in Mukachevo, near the Hungarian border, she said “Okay, let’s do it.”
“I couldn’t believe my ears,” the daughter said. “We had to book tickets right away before my mom would get scared and hesitant again. We left three days later. Now looking back, I am glad we didn’t wait another week or two.”
Here is the rest of her account about the trip and her perspective on the invasion.
My sister-in-law, Gail, while traveling to Budapest, Hungary in 2011 had taken cooking lessons and stayed in contact with her teacher Agnes Barath. She was able to reach out to her and ask what cities should we look at for our one-month stay. And guess what? Agnes said her mother-in-law’s apartment in Szolnok (58 miles from Budapest) was available for rent! What a relief it was! Agnes was extremely kind and helpful. She taught us how to cook national Hungarian soup, goulash, and in return, my mom showed her how to cook our Ukrainian soup borscht. We had a great time!
But now, Brinkmeier writes: “Mentally, I am at the point where my mind and body are asking for healing, but every new day of this war hurts me more. I feel like before I could talk about it. Now, since all the terrible crimes committed by the Russian army were revealed, I only want to sob and scream.
“It’s another level of evil. The feeling of fear has grown into disgust and urgent need for justice. I don’t know how in the 21st century genocide is happening and the world lets it happen. An independent European country is being washed off the Earth. Ukraine is begging for help and justice, but seems like its loud scream sounds as a whisper to most influential leaders on the world arena. I don’t know how many more people have to die, how many more women and kids have to be raped, how many more innocent souls have to be broken until world leaders stop Putin, stop Russia.
“Ukrainian towns are still occupied, thousands of people are still being captured and not able to evacuate, not able to receive humanitarian aid. People in liberated areas are ordered not to come back to their houses or not to leave them so the Ukrainian army can work on demining. Demining streets, houses, schools, dead bodies. What normal human being does this?
“Humanitarian aid is finally being distributed...Russian army is a bunch of animals. Everything is being taken away! Not just jewelry and money, but even electronics, washing machines, refrigerators, forks, carpets for God’s sake! Russian soldiers stealing cars, filling them with things Ukrainians worked for and driving away in those cars, leaving Russian tanks behind. An army of robbers, rapists and killers. That’s who they are.
“I am thanking God every single day that my family is alive, they still have a roof over their head. But my soul is forever broken for all the innocent people who have died because of someone’s crazy ideas, because they were Ukrainians.
“I am afraid of what will be revealed after current occupied cities get liberated. I am afraid we will run out of tears. This genocide will never be forgotten. This genocide will never be forgiven. Every silent Russian citizen is a part of it.”
A final plea
Sveta Brinkmeier was scheduled to return from Hungary on Saturday, April 23. She said she couldn’t stay longer, ironically because she has an appointment to take a civics test, the final step to American citizenship.
“I just want to say how blessed we are with good people who care,” she said. “People who we met long time ago, but who are kind no matter what. That’s the way what this world should be… for our kids, for future generations! Each of us can make a difference.
My only message is please keep helping Ukraine! Keep donating and praying – too many lives are being taken away.”