Our lives have dramatically changed in the last three weeks. Once the war broke out in Ukraine and we knew there would be people fleeing our way we didn’t hesitate to open our homes to those in need. To be clear, this was not a decision made on a whim. We understood, and still do understand, the huge undertaking we put ourselves in by hosting a family. But we had the very unique opportunity to help people first hand and we wanted to do everything we could to help.
The first thing I did was register our house on the many different websites that were popping up to help Ukrainians fleeing the war. Within hours I was getting multiple messages of people looking for a safe place to go with their families. I would respond to the messages but 90% of the time I wouldn’t hear from them again. Understandably so as they are sending many messages out and trying to figure out their next move.
I was also watching the different Facebook groups and trying to find others that were offering housing. I then got in contact with a wonderful man named Atanas. He has a theater in Sofia and converted some space into temporary housing for Ukrainians. We quickly became involved in helping each other to find housing for families in need. I told him we had an open house and to contact me if he heard of a family that needed housing.
The morning of March 9th he called me needing housing for a family of six, mom, daughters, and little ones, and immediately we said we could take them. They were traveling by bus and were set to arrive at some point that day/evening. We figured out logistics and told him to call once he knew of their arrival time.
Around 3pm Atanas called with details on their arrival and Jared got the “big car” ready to go in to pick them up. Neither one of us had any idea what the family would be like, all we knew were their ages and that they needed a home.
Jared recalled the night he picked them up in a previous blog post, and as he was in Sofia, I was at home anxiously waiting for them to arrive. Our wonderful neighbors were also helping out by giving us extra bedding and making traditional Ukrainian food for them.
Around 10pm they finally got to their new home and instantly they felt like family. The oldest daughter, Nastia, spoke English and could easily talk with us. Polly, the second oldest of the
bunch, also had enough English skills to communicate. They were tired and hungry and just wanted to eat, shower, and sleep.
I couldn’t imagine what their lives had been like for the last 2 weeks, and later I’ll write the stories they have told me about their time in Kyiv, their decision to leave, and their journey to Bulgaria. I couldn’t imagine having to leave everything that’s familiar and safe and flee to a strange land with just a bag full of my belongings. To put my safety, and the safety of my family, in the hands of total strangers. To leave family behind not knowing when I’ll see them again, and do all of that with a 3 ½ year old and a 4 month old baby. What they went through, and still are going through, is truly heartbreaking and incredible and the least we could do is give them a warm home and the comfort knowing they are safe again.