In March of 2014, Russia reclaimed Crimea, which had been part of Ukraine for 60 years. That was when Vitalii and Lidiia started to get really worried about their future in Ukraine. Things were not looking good. Stories of violence and fighting were escalating.
With the annexation of Crimea, there was a great deal of fear and fighting in East Ukraine, tanks rolled across the landscape, with often bombings and shooting near the border. Many people from East Ukraine fled to the western part of the country, in search of safety. Crime got worse, jobs became scarce. Ukrainian soldiers were in the streets preparing to defend against further aggression by Russia.
As they patiently waited, their vetting took two-and-a-half years to complete.
Amongst all the hostilities and confusion, to protect their children, Vitalii and Lidiia decided to apply for refugee status with the United States. As they patiently waited, their vetting took two-and-a-half years to complete. Finally, in December 2016, they received their refugee status and arrived in the U.S. With nothing more than clothes on their backs and what they could carry on the plane, they dove in to learn English, find work and get their kids into school.
The kindness of Lidiia's sister, and their new community helped Vitalii and Lidiia breathe easier and realize that a good future was possible for their children. That they were safe.
Lidiia has a dream of becoming a nurse, as she relentlessly works on improving her English, studying every day while the kids are at school.
The American Civic Association helped Vitalii find work. He is grateful to be able to provide for his family. To know he can provide them with security.
Safety. Kindness. Security. Their basic needs for a better life.
With nothing more than clothes on their backs... they dove in to learn English, find work and get their kids into school.
Our team members obtain informed consent from each individual before an interview takes place. Individuals dictate where their stories may be shared and what personal information they wish to keep private. In situations where the individual is at risk and/or wishes to remain anonymous, alias names are used and other identifying information is removed from interviews immediately after they are received by TSOS. We have also committed not to use refugee images or stories for fundraising purposes without explicit permission. Our top priority is to protect and honor the wishes of our interview subjects.