By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
A young student from Ukraine is staying in Coaldale amidst the ongoing war overseas. In late April, Adrienne and Mark Shipton welcomed their former exchange student, 16-year-old Serhii, to stay with them as his home country remains wrought with upheaval and uncertainty. This is not the first time Serhii has lived and studied in Coaldale. The young student was formerly placed with the Shiptons as his homestay family as part of Palliser School Division’s International student program, where he attended R.I. Baker Middle School in Coaldale.
Three years after his return to Ukraine, and the onset of Russia’s intensified attacks against his country, “he contacted us and asked to come, and of course, he could,” said Shipton. While the uncertainty of war offers no timelines of when it will be safe to return, the family agreed, “he will be here as long as necessary,” and added Serhii will be needing a summer job at the end of the term. With a lot of practice under his belt, “his English is excellent.”
Since late February 2022, estimates place casualties resulting from the ongoing war at over 45,000 people, in addition to a reported 400 people missing, and nearly 13 million people displaced following the first phase of the invasion earlier this year. It is estimated that over 2,000 buildings have been damaged in Ukraine, amounting to nearly $600 billion in damages following the sharp escalation of the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war, which dates back eight years and follows Russia’s highly criticized annexation of the southern region of Crimea in 2014. Shipton said although Serhii was able to travel to Canada, his family remains in Ukraine, and are sending their prayers for their safety and hoping for a timely resolution.
Miraculous efforts have been made by private citizens across the world to offer support and resources to Ukrainians fleeing their homeland now under siege. “I would encourage those who can open their home to do so or donate to reputable organizations.”
According to the Shiptons, Serhii is in contact with his family, who are still in Lviv; a city rocked by power outages caused by missile strikes in recent days. His family is unable to come at this time.
“News in his home town has not been positive,” said Shipton. “We are praying for peace.”
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