Broomfield resident asks for help getting her Ukrainian family members to Colorado

It has been more than 50 days since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, but Ukrainians living in other countries are still struggling to get family members still in their home countries to safety, some close to at their home in Broomfield.

Oksana Slobonyuk Kovalenko, who is originally from Ukraine but has lived in Broomfield for many years, works tirelessly to bring her two aunts, uncle and their children safely to Broomfield. These extended family members were living in Ukraine at the time of the Russian invasion and have since made the long journey by train and on foot to Poland to seek refuge from the devastation around their home. They are staying in refugee shelters waiting for a chance to come to Broomfield.

The refugees shared with Kovalenko that they couldn’t even plan to take a shower without having all their things ready next to them, so they could leave at any time.

“My family has young children,” Kovalenko said. “Airstrikes day after day – from the 19th floor to bomb shelters, it may be too late. There’s no way to coach someone through this. There’s nothing you say to encourage them through something like that.

The decision to pack up and leave your home, possessions and everything behind, for safety reasons, not knowing if you will ever return and not even knowing if you did if your home would still be there is the hardest part,” Kovalenko said.

“Imagine convincing someone to do this, to leave your house and everything in it,” Kovalenko said. “How do you try to fit all of this into a suitcase? Trying to convince them that it was the best decision to leave was the hardest part. I tried to give them hope that even if they eventually came back, they might not have their home, but at least they would be alive and safe.

On March 24, President Joe Biden announced that the United States would accept 100,000 Ukrainian and other citizens fleeing attacks from Russia, according to the US State Department website. However, according to Kovalenko, it’s much more complicated than just getting them here.

Kovalenko is looking for financial support and resources in Broomfield and Colorado that could help him make the right decisions to bring his family members here. According to Kovalenko, her connections informed her that most refugees must pass through Mexico to enter the United States. The best way for these refugees to qualify for humanitarian parole is unclear to Kovalenko and his family.

Kovalenko tries to provide basic information to his family on how to navigate airports and what documents they will need to present to Border Patrol, as they had not traveled outside of Ukraine before. It plans how to provide them with housing, work permits, English as a second language lessons and other necessities so that they can settle here in Broomfield for as long as necessary.

“There are just a lot of unknowns right now because we haven’t had a lot of government support so far,” Kovalenko said. “The United States has said it welcomes refugees with open arms, but we haven’t really seen a plan for that, and it’s devastating. Right now it’s just us making a lot of decisions for them.

Kovalenko said many organizations that could provide sponsorship to Ukrainian refugees are not yet allowed to allocate funds because the government has not made decisions regarding the allocation of funds.

Kovalenko and his family are accepting donations for expenses such as airfare, housing and more, as well as information or resources anyone can provide to facilitate this trip.

Donations are being accepted through the family’s Spotfund account and through Kovalenko’s personal Venmo account at @Oksana-Kovalenko-3. You can contact Kovalenko with helpful information by emailing [email protected] or by calling 303-875-9834.

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