Karyna Bukovtsova and her family recently settled into the Wenatchee Valley, shortly after fleeing Ukraine from invading Russian forces.

Russian forces began encroaching into Ukraine on Feb. 24, with roughly 7 million Ukrainians leaving the country. This invasion led to one of the largest refugee migrations to Europe since WWII and the Syrian Civil War. 

Karyna fled Ukraine with her husband, Oleh Bukovt, and their three children during the start of the war. They traveled to Moldova before traveling further into Europe and finally settling into the United States.

Before the Russian Invasion, Karyna worked as a nurse and Oleh worked as a photographer. Many of their family members are still living in Ukraine, including Karyna’s mother and sister.

“Some of them [are] not safe, some of them [are] safe. My mom is 50/50 safe. My sister works in Odessa,” Karyna said. “It's so hard because every day there are shootings, bombs, and air alarms, and it's not safe.”

The Bukovtsova family arrived in Wenatchee to be close to a mutual friend, who is also Ukrainian. They were introduced to Friends of Ukraine Refugees through that friend and have connected with other Ukrainian families in the area.

“We are very happy to be here, because our children [are] safe and we're very happy to meet new people,” Karyna said.

Friends of Ukraine Refugees is an organization that helps pay for the living expenses of Ukrainian refugees. Due to many families waiting for their work visas and having to pay Immigration lawyers, they rely heavily on state grants.

Karyna and Oleh are currently waiting for their work visas. In the meantime, they are taking English lessons four times a week and volunteering with Friends of Ukraine Refugees.

Their oldest daughter Solomiia, will be starting high school at Wenatchee High School. Their middle child Sofiia will go to Pioneer Middle School, and their youngest Yeva is going to Washington Elementary School.

When the war ends, they said they will let God decide whether they stay in Wenatchee or go back to Ukraine.

“We pray and we ask God what we need to do. If it is indeed possible to stay here, it would be good,” Karyna said. “If we need to go away, we go back home. It depends on the situation in Ukraine and if we can stay here and work and do what we like.”

Karyna thanks all of those who helped support her and her family during this process.

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