Ukrainian refugee finds family in United Kingdom

Ukrainian refugee finds family in United Kingdom

by
Nazarene News Staff
| 21 Mar 2024
Image
Euro-Ukraine Host
Caption

From left to right, Kyle, Omar, Ira, and Sandra.

Omar and Sandra were on vacation when they received the gut-wrenching news of the war that had erupted in Ukraine. Images of families torn apart and people forced to abandon their homes sent shockwaves of compassion through their hearts. Together, they decided to open their home to a Ukrainian refugee.

“We knew we had room in our home, so it was an easy initial decision for us to open up our home,” Sandra said.

Following this, they registered to be hosts as soon as possible and then found out they could be matched with someone through the Church of the Nazarene. Upon returning from vacation, their son Kyle selflessly offered his en-suite bedroom for their incoming guest. To make it a warm and welcoming space, the family gave the room a fresh coat of paint and stocked it with toiletries and essential provisions, not knowing what their guest might have or need.

The family also learned basic Ukrainian phrases and labeled their kitchen cupboards with Ukrainian and English to bridge the language gap and ensure a smooth transition. Omar and Sandra also connected with other host families to gather invaluable advice and insights into the experience they were about to embark on.

The anticipation built as they connected with Ira, their soon-to-arrive guest, through FaceTime. Ira finally arrived at Edinburgh airport with just one small suitcase.

“That moment broke my heart,” Sandra recalled. “We hugged and both cried even though we did not know anything about one another. At that moment, we created a bond that we will always share.”

Their embrace, although unfamiliar, was filled with the warmth of newfound friendship. As Sandra puts it, their first walks together in the neighborhood were “magical.”

“It was like showing a best friend all my favorite places,” Sandra said.

While Ira found peace and a sense of safety in her new home, her heart remained connected to the family she had left behind in Ukraine, including her son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in Dnipro. Though she has maintained regular contact with them, she hopes to visit them soon. However, the journey back home is not simple, given the complexities of passports and the lingering caution from her experiences.

Over the past year, Omar and Sandra helped Ira enroll in college to learn English in September, and her recent graduation in July marked a significant milestone in her journey.

As the six-month hosting period ended, the family aided Ira’s transition to independence. With the help of their local government, Ira moved into an apartment in November 2022. This transition was challenging, but the bonds of friendship and support remained strong. Despite the language barrier, Ira managed to secure a job at a local care home, where she found fulfillment and stability. Her earnings contributed to her apartment and living costs, easing her path to independence.

This article is an abbreviated version of a story that appeared on the Eurasia Region website. For the full story, click here.

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