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Ukrainians seeking refuge in Western Massachusetts

Western Mass News Exclusive
Nearly three months have passed since Russia first invaded Ukraine and several refugees have fled the country and sought shelter in the U.S.
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 4:30 PM EDT|Updated: May. 17, 2022 at 4:54 PM EDT
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AGAWAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Nearly three months have passed since Russia first invaded Ukraine and several refugees have fled the country and sought shelter in the U.S.

“When I came to America…I felt safe completely,” said Ukrainian refugee Oleksandra Tkach.

Tkach is one of six Ukrainians seeking refuge in Natalie and Pavel Kuzmenko’s Agawam home.

“I tried to help more people and I go every year to visit Ukraine. I started seeking people who need help and then I found Bucha,” Pavel Kuzmenko explained.

Bucha is the city Tkach and Natalii Hoydyk called home before devastating destruction tore through when Russia invaded their country. The two spoke to Western Mass News through a translator about their incredibly dangerous journeys seeking safety in the U.S.

“When we left, it was very scary because there were a lot of bombs going off next to us….on the way there, on the road when we were driving, the tanks were shooting at us,” Tkach added.

Hoydyk said, “They said you can’t leave and she said ‘Yes, I can because God will help me.’”

Pavel moved from Ukraine when he was 17 years old and has spent years offering help to those in his home country, so for he and his wife opening their doors to these six Ukrainians looking for a home was a no-brainer and they are all immensely grateful.

“I really like it here because we have good hospitality and it is very warm. Everyone is just very welcoming and very giving,” Hoydyk added.

The Kuzmenkos said as for what’s next, they are just taking it day-by-day.

“Tomorrow, we don’t know. It’s possible to keep them as long as they want in our house, but we cannot say what will happen tomorrow with the war and how long it’s going to go,” Kuzmenko said.