Teen foreign exchange student in Iowa fears for her family in Ukraine

(KCCI) – A 15-year-old foreign exchange student in central Iowa says she is heartbroken and worried about her family back home in Ukraine.

Olya Hinchak, from western Ukraine, has been in State Center since August. Her mom, dad, and 8-year-old sister remain in Ukraine.

“My biggest fear is that we’re gonna lose our freedom again,” Olya said.

Her host family, the Rohmillers, are a military family. So they say they have an understanding of the hardship when it comes to war.

The mother, Rebecca, recalls what Olya’s mother texted her last Thursday when the invasion started.

“The most important thing for us now is that you take care of Olya,” Olya’s mother texted. “You understand that we can die at any moment. Become a family for Olya.”

“To be in such fear of your life, sending another mom a text like this asking them to care for your child, it’s just so heartbreaking,” Rebecca Rohmiller said.

The host family has tried to find ways to get Olya back to Ukraine with no success.

The family also reached to Iowa’s senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley.

Ernst’s office says it is working with Iowa organizations and Ukrainians in the state to help navigate the situation.

Copyright 2022 KCCI. All rights reserved.

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