GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — People gathered in downtown Grand Rapids Thursday night outside of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum to rally in support of Ukraine.

They Flew Ukrainian flags, held up signs and shared stories of loved ones caught in the chaos of the war.

Exchange student Ukrainian Yasmina Abdelrham spoke to the crowd as her hometown was being attacked.

“Two of my friends’ schools are destroyed and I check the news every hour to not to see my school next,” Abdelrham said. “My parents — they got to leave like, three days right before everything happened, but the rest of my family is still there. My grandmother, she’s hiding in a bomb shelter.”

Tetiana Freund, an organizer of the demonstration, found out right before the rally that her parents were able to make it out safely to Poland after days of trying.

Rally for Ukraine at Ah-Nab-Awen Park in Grand Rapids. (March 3, 2022)

“They’ve been hiding in the bathroom for like, three days because it’s the safest place,” Freund said. “We want to get them here because they don’t have a place to go back to.”

Many at the rally are calling on the U.S. government to grant Ukrainians refugee status and create a no-fly zone.

Olena Poplavska brought her family to the rally to be a voice for those that are still in Ukraine.

“I have my grandma, my uncle who chose to stay in my hometown, which is currently being bombed pretty much every night. My other cousins and friends who have children of young age they left the town to protect the children while husbands stayed behind to fight for their homes,” Poplavska said.

Despite the destruction, Olena is staying hopeful and believes in the resilience of the Ukrainian people. 

“I know that we will restore it, knowing how our people are and what they have gone through,” Poplavska said.