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'I haven't slept': A Ventura County mom's concern for her Ukrainian family who are in a bomb shelter

Marina Zaretskiy from Ventura County is worried about her father and grandmother in Kyiv
Marina Zaretskiy from Ventura County is worried about her father and grandmother in Kyiv

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine escalates, Ukrainians in U.S. are worried about their family and friends in their homeland.

Along with her mom, Marina Zaretskiy moved from her home in Kyiv to Los Angeles when she was just 8 years old.

Now 32-years-old and a mom herself, living in Newbury Park, she has fond memories of growing up in the city.

"I still have home videos. It was me and my mom and my uncle and two cousins," she told KCLU.

"In eastern Europe you live as one family, you get married and your husband moves into the family home. So I have memories of us all living together in a pretty small apartment."

Her father and paternal grandmother – along with cousins and friends are still in Kyiv, in a bomb shelter.

"My father's side of the family, along with a lot of our friends are still in Kyiv," she said.

"We have had contact with my father who at this point is in one of the bomb shelters.

"A few on my mom's friends are doing the train route to get out to Poland. People with small children are trying to get out."

She continued: "I have a grandmother there who is 85 years old so it's not that easy to drive 3 or 4 days in a car to Poland so they are staying put."

Fraught with worry and watching a constant news cycle, Marina says she’s hardly slept since the Russian invasion into Ukraine began.

"I barely sleep. I'm reading and watching all day and all night.

"The opportunities to speak to someone in Ukraine is at 3 or 4 in the morning when it's daytime there and then it's 6am and time for me to get me and my own baby up and for me to go to work."

She says the support she’s received from friends and colleagues here, has meant a lot.

As for what happens next? She’s trying to keep in touch, despite patchy communication ability, and hopes some of her family can get to safety.

"It's truly heartbreaking, it's something I never could imagine would happen in this century," she said.

"My grandmother was describing the kids there in the metro station, and toddlers on top of each other and they can't sleep for days.

"Their soundtrack for days is constant sirens, alarms and bombings. As a mother, I can't imagine that."

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 10 Golden Mike Awards, 5 Los Angeles Press Club Awards, 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Writing.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for eleven years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.