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Russia-Ukraine Conflict: 2 Philadelphia Sisters Fearful For Lives Of Family, Friends Still In Country

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Two Philadelphia sisters are keeping a close eye on what's happening in Ukraine. They're fearful for the lives of their friends and family still in the country.

People are praying for Ukraine, including two sisters who are worried for their family and friends who are still in the country. They say they are always in communication with their loved ones.

"If I find this traumatizing to look at a screen, I can't imagine what they are going through," Marta Penkalskyj said.

That was Penkalskyj fearfully watching the terror unfold on her TV in Philadelphia as Russia invaded Ukraine. Penkalskyj graduated from Manor College in Jenkintown in 2018 and since then, she was continuing her studies in Ukraine until she says her father told her to get out and come home.

"My father called me. He said, 'This is not looking bad, it's looking terrible.' That's when I decided to come back," Penkalskyj said.

It wasn't easy, leaving behind her boyfriend, friends and some family.

She says she knew her parents wanted her home safely.

"I couldn't do that to them. I know their parents had to evacuate Ukraine during the Second World War," Penkalskyj said, "They know the reality of the situation. They know that this regime is not messing around and they prove that yet again."

Penkalskyj's sister, Vera Penkalskyj, also spoke with Eyewitness News on Thursday. She says they do their best to stay in constant communication with their loved ones.

"Every hour we're calling them and hoping that they are in a safe space," Vera Penkalskyj said.

"We are always in communication," Marta Penkalskyj said. "As of yet, everyone is OK, but you never know because even sometimes the signal gets blocked and sometimes you're like, 'Hey, why is that?'"

They are hoping to reunite soon.

"I really hope to go back to everyone, in order to see them again, just so we can be reunited again," Vera Penkalskyj said.

The Penkalskyj sisters also say their loved ones, like many in Ukraine, are also moving to safer areas or heading to basements or bomb shelters to stay safe as well.

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