HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – It’s been almost a year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and families in Hampton Roads still worry about their relatives there.

Anna Makhorkina, president of the Tidewater Ukrainian Cultural Association, said the past year has been the worst year for all Ukrainians.

“It was terrifying. It was like surreal,” Makhorkina said.

Last year, Makhorkina was getting ready for bed around 11 p.m. when she checked the news.

“I see the news flashes popping up on my screen that it started,” she said, “… the explosions, the shelling, the invasion and the circling of Kyiv.”

She frantically tried to contact her family.

“Trying to call my parents. My parents not answering,” Makhorkina said.

Eight hours later, they called her. Her parents were safe, and for the last 365 days, she has worried every day.

“I still try to convince them to just come and stay with me again,” Makhorkina said. “They came in the summer, but they wanted to go back.”

Makhorkina still keeps in contact with her parents, usually during a morning phone call. But even as recently as Monday, sirens ended that call.

“We couldn’t talk because the sirens started going off because either a missile was flying across the country or the planes in Belarus were lifting off,” she said. “That is the daily life. That is the daily life in the safe area.”

Here in Hampton Roads, Makhorkina said she is fighting for her community.

She helps run Tidewater Ukrainian Cultural Association.

They raise awareness and help Ukrainian refugees find transportation, a job and a place to live.

“I have responsibilities here to my community, to my family and to them,” Makhorkina said. “I try to do everything I can do here, so the horror they live in Ukraine will end soon.”

The Ukrainian military continues to fight against Russian troops, but there is no end in sight.

Meanwhile, she said the prayers and support have helped keep Ukrainians strong.

“Ukraine will be able to perseverance and win and then it will just be a matter of rebuilding,” Makhorkina said.

Want to go?

Anna Makhorkina, president of the Tidewater Ukrainian Cultural Association, has invited the public to support local Ukrainians at the 1-year-anniversary rally at Town Point Park, 113 Waterside Dr. in Norfolk, at 1 p.m. Sunday.