NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) -Nataliya Shinkarev is a Nashville nurse from Ukraine. She is working to help her family and her friends escape Kharkiv.

Kharkiv is one of the largest cities in Ukraine. It has been bombed several times and is still on the near-constant attack. So far, Nataliya Shinkarev has gotten 20 people out of Kharkiv with help from one of her friends in Ukraine.

“Me and Olga we were coordinating everything,” Shinkarev said as she explained how much stress she’s been under knowing her family was in danger. “It’s probably two to three days I didn’t sleep completely because all these pieces of a big puzzle were to come together and work and it did and as soon as they passed the border I kind of get better.”

Shinkarev found someone who drove her family more than 1,000 miles away to safety.

“One great man from Croatia– he’s a volunteer– he’s not making money on it or anything. He’s basically losing money. He got little buses to get all of my family to Croatia. So, they are right now in Croatia,” Shinkarev explained.

Shinkarev left Ukraine 18 years ago but still has family and friends in Kharkiv, where she grew up. When the war first broke out, Shinkarev’s parents and other family members didn’t want to leave their homes.

“They just said, ‘Okay. We will stay here. We will die here,’” Shinkarev said this was the bleak reality many of her loved ones accepted. “I’m calling my brother; we have WhatsApp, and we talk. I said, ‘What are you doing?’ he said, ‘I’m just lying on the couch.’ I said, ‘Why are you not in the cellar?’ Because there are bombs there you hear it. And he said, ‘It’s just a matter of time.’ Then when you hear it. It’s not okay. It’s something I can’t explain.”

Shinkarev says much of the area she lived in has been destroyed. Even though Shinkarev was able to get her family out of Kharkiv, she’s been talking to dozens of people who are stuck in the war zone.

“They cannot leave their elderly that’s what it is,” Shinkarev said. “People who are not walking and basically need total care, how can you even transport them?”

Nataliya is trying to raise $15,000 to help more Ukrainians. So far, she is halfway to her goal. Click here to donate

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