“06880” reader Olga Olha Kyrychenko writes:
I am a Ukrainian, American, Odessian and Westporter, all at the same time. This is my story.
My family left our home in Odessa and came to United States about 2 years ago. Back in Ukraine my husband had an office job as a tariff broker. I was raising our 2 sons, preparing to return to my career in telecommunications.
We thought we had a good life, but we also had a feel it could be over. It was scary to leave all behind and come to the US, but we did it for our boys, for the future, for a better life. We embraced the American dream so many seek.
We arrived in the US in the middle of the COVID pandemic with no language, jobs, or home of our own. Even though it has not been an easy journey, we were incredibly grateful to begin a new life in such a diverse and compassionate community as Westport.
Within a week my husband joined a construction crew, even though he had no idea how to handle tools. I have been helping our boys with the cultural transition and learning English. Not long ago, I began babysitting to contribute to our family income.
As challenging as it has been for us, we struggled to accept that our home, Ukraine, would be engulfed in war soon after our departure. Our families have been forced to leave their homes and communities, and lost all sense of safety and security. Their children live in constant fear and confusion. We have been trying to help them any way we could.
As if navigating these events weren’t enough, on April 23 we found ourselves staring at our own home in Odessa being televised on fire, and posted on every social media platform. It was destroyed when an errant missile slammed into the side of our apartment building.
You may have seen the news that a little baby girl and her family died in that building. They were our neighbors.
More people died who the news did not cover. Even more are out of their homes. Close to 200 people don’t have a place to live.
Our hearts are breaking for our neighbors whose lives were lost or changed, and for the reality of homelessness for our nephew and his girlfriend who miraculously escaped.
We consider ourselves lucky to be here and alive, and desperately want to help in any way we can. But we have very limited resources. With humility, we ask you to please consider donating anything you can. This money will go directly to the families of the victims, and toward rebuilding a place we used to call our home.
Please click here for the link to a GoFundMe page I started.
Thank you, and God bless!
(Hat tip: Elena Shmonina)