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Ukrainian native living in Carmel watches war unfold near loved ones in her home country

Svitlana Ramer has heard from her mother back home, but is worried about her continued safety.

CARMEL, Ind. — On Thursday, Svitlana Ramer’s 35th birthday, the Ukraine native woke up to a text from her mother, who still lives in the capital city of Kyiv.

“I woke up around 6 to get to work and saw two missed calls and then a message by her that just said, ‘We are being bombed,’” Ramer said.

Ramer, who came to the United States in 2008 for graduate school, has lived in Carmel for the past four years. Hearing her mom’s voice later Thursday and learning she was OK was only small comfort.

“It just turned into this black hole of helplessness,” said Ramer. “Even if she calls, what is it that I can do?”

When Ramer sees the images coming out her home country, she’s in shock.

“People didn’t really believe that it could come to this,” Ramer said. “How could it come to this?"

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But it has, and two of the people Ramer loves most, her mom and 90-year-old grandmother, are in the midst of the conflict.

“My mom, she could have left the country,” Ramer said. “She has the visa to come here and everything, but she couldn’t. She’s taking care of my grandma full time and couldn’t leave her behind.”

Ramer’s grandmother had a stroke in November and isn’t mobile enough yet to travel to find shelter, should the bombing continue.

Ramer’s mom will try to find a place safer than the apartment where she lives with Ramer’s grandmother, but will probably spend Thursday night in an underground parking garage.

“She said she’s going to sleep in her car overnight in case there’s more bombings,” Ramer said.

RELATED: Ukrainian family flees to Indiana ahead of Russian invasion

Ramer was just a little girl when the former Soviet Union collapsed.

“I grew up in an independent Ukraine,” Ramer recalled. “I went to school and all my classes were in Ukrainian and all our books were in Ukrainian. It was common to go to school and speak Ukrainian half the day, come home, and speak Russian half the day. Those were normal things, but that did not take away from the fact that I’m Ukrainian.”

For her, there is nothing else.

“The fact that there’s a question of that, the fact that there’s a question of the right of my country to exist does not fit with my understanding,” she said.

Especially when Ramer looks out the window of her office in downtown Indianapolis.

“You just see the city in front of you and the horizon stretching so far out. It’s a gift to be in peace and it’s a gift to be in safety and so I’m very grateful for that and I wish that for my people back home,” she said.

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