CHICAGO — Halyna Didula came to Chicago from Ukraine several months after Russia invaded her country.

She is a Fulbright Scholar studying social work. But the war back home is never far from her mind.

“I live in two realities,”Didula said. 

The differences became even more strikingly – and sadly – clear last month when she went home to attend her sister’s wedding.

Dimitriy, Didula’s sister’s fiancé Dimitriy Pashchuk, was on the frontlines but expected to be able to return to western Ukraine for the ceremony and celebration. 

Instead, as family and friends arrived in anticipation of the ceremony word came that Pashchuk had been killed in combat. 

It’s a war that a medical condition would’ve allowed him to sit out. 

“He said ‘I should go. I cannot live here while my friends or other men are out on the front line defending their families,’” Didula said. “(He said. ‘I have my fiancée. I have you and my sister and my mother and my father and I want to protect them.  And just to fight for freedom.’”

Now Didula has decided she can no longer stay in Chicago.  She wants to do her part to help those at home. 

WGN’s Ben Bradley has her story.