IRIS-Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services

One year later: A Ukrainian Mother starts over in CT

My name is Masha,* I am a mom of three beautiful kids. We arrived here with my sister and her daughter 9 months ago. My kids and I used to live in a small charming city, Bucha, 15 minutes away from Kyiv. We loved our small apartment and our time together. I loved my job, and my kids loved their school and friends. Most of all, the kids loved the moments when my mom and dad came to visit us. It has already been a year since they saw their grandparents for the last time. It has already been a year since they saw their dad for the last time. It’s so hard.

I still remember that morning when Russia invaded Ukraine. I remember the helicopters that flew over our house and bombed the airport in the city next to ours. We saw it through our kitchen window. I remember the basement where we slept for two weeks, the longest weeks in my life. I remember the fear on my kids’ faces when they saw tanks and burned bodies next to those tanks. It was a nightmare.

The day we fled Ukraine was so hazy. We couldn’t believe that we were finally safe and we didn’t know what was gonna be next. Thank God we got a chance to get to the USA. It was so hard to start building a completely new life in a completely different country. I was not sure that we would be able to survive.

Luckily, I found a job I have been working at since July. As I didn’t have my work permit, my new employer, Dean, offered to keep track of my hours until I got it. They were so kind, but it was very difficult to survive until I got my first paycheck. I finally got it in October, when I got approved for work authorization. It was so hard for my kids, after everything they have been through without speaking any English to adjust here. The same for my sister.

We are still struggling every day. But thanks God, we met a lot of nice people that helped us and made our lives easier. I am so grateful I met these amazing and kind people from New Start Ministry that have been helping us for almost 4 months.

It is hard but now I know we are not alone in this country.

The same about my motherland. It’s hard but I know the entire world supports and prays for Ukraine.

Together we are stronger and we will win.

*Masha’s name has been altered for privacy. She delivered this speech as part of a rally in solidarity with Ukraine one year after the Russian invasion.

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