KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Two Ukrainian students at Western Michigan University continue to fear for their families’ lives amid the Russian invasion.

Mariia Parkhomenko is a master’s student at WMU. She came to the United States in August 2020. Her mother, father, grandparents and 7-year-old brother are among many of her relatives still in Ukraine, near Crimea.

“They need to hide in a shelter very often because explosions are continuing,” Parkhomenko said Tuesday. “And Russians occupy my city fully, it’s very dangerous to go outside.”

Her family is struggling to get supplies.

“Maybe a few stores are open, but there are long lines,” she said. “So if you want to buy something, you need to wait for four hours.”

They’re afraid to leave the house.

“It’s very unsafe,” Parkhomenko explained. “They said if somebody wants to go out, then Russians can shoot at them. So they’re very aggressive. It’s very difficult. People need to stay at home now.”

Anna-Maria Astor is a junior at WMU. She moved here from Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, in August of last year.

“My family’s trying to evacuate from the city itself,” Astor said. “So my dad will likely drop off my mom and my sister next to the border where it’s safer. He will likely come back to protect the city.”

Astor and Parkhomenko grateful for the support they’re receiving from friends and professors, but it’s hard for them to be students right now.

“I haven’t been studying for seven days,” Parkhomenko said. “Because when the war started, I couldn’t even sleep.”

A moment of silence for Ukraine on Western Michigan University campus on March 1, 2022.

“I can’t say that I’m fine,” Astor said. “I’m just trying to cope with it as much as I can. It’s hard to answer, ‘Are you OK?’”

“I feel very depressed and very desperate,” Parkhomenko added. “And for me, it’s very painful to see what’s happening in my country. And especially it’s very painful that I cannot go back and be with my family.”

Still, they’re hopeful this nightmare will come to an end.

“I’m proud of my people,” Parkhomenko said. “And I think Ukrainians will never give up. Because we have to protect our land.”

Astor and Parkhomenko spoke to News 8 at a moment of silence for Ukraine at WMU on Tuesday. Student Body President Alexis Morris helped organize the event the night before.

“We’ve had both domestic and international students reach out and say, ‘Hey, I’m having a hard time coping with this, dealing with this, knowing what’s going on, having accurate information,’” Morris said. “So we really took it as an opportunity for us to step up to the plate.”

The moment of silence hit close to home for Morris.

“My family always hosts exchange students,” she said. “One, that was around my junior year, is trapped over in Kyiv right now and trying to get out of the country.”

Her friend got engaged before the invasion.

“We were going to go over to the wedding next year to be able to see her for the first time since she left the U.S.,” Morris said. “And now, not knowing what that circumstance is like is hard.”

Morris is planning on organizing a candlelight vigil after spring break. She also wants to send care packages to Ukrainian students on campus.

Sophomore Logen Crandall didn’t know about the moment of silence beforehand.

“I’m really glad that I happened to come across the flag poles today,” Crandall said. “I just think it’s really important for everyone across the world to show their support.”

For those who were there, it was a moving moment.

“I was crying,” freshman Jaylin Varner said. “I was crying for the pain of Ukraine.”