Welcome to America! That is what many Ukrainians are waiting to hear – including our dear Yana and her mom Luda. Finally, after leaving their home in Ukraine on Hope Now’s very last evacuation convoy this past March, and spending the last 4 months in Romania, these 2 ladies have arrived safely and are ready to settle into life in New Mexico!
The USCIS has already approved 24,000 Ukrainians to travel to the USA on humanitarian parole, on the Uniting for Ukraine program. Our own Katya and her family have already settled into life in New Mexico, so it was only natural that we send Yana and Luda to that community as well. After traveling over 40 hours straight, Yana and Luda gratefully took Katya’s advice and had breakfast at an all-night diner, upon arrival.
Luda doesn’t speak or read any English, so all the pressure was on 16-year-old Yana, to complete the beneficiary part of the application forms, and after approval – to lead the way to their journey to the USA. We did our best to teach Yana how to navigate an airport, how to pack (and what not to pack!), how to read the itinerary, and coached her on some key phrases she could use if totally lost. It was such a dream to be able to fly on an airplane, and she was very excited to see Frankfurt below!
Despite a couple of small delays and gate changes, Yana and Luda managed to successfully get the correct midnight bus from Romania to Hungary, and then catch the next 3 planes, and have a stressful immigration interview before being welcomed to the USA.
In Romania, Yana and Luda lived in our borrowed residential orphanage, along with about 60 other kids / moms we evacuated from the orphanage in Ukraine. Luda lost her husband a few years ago, and this event allowed her to register Yana at the orphanage school – so that’s why she was there. We always knew that Yana was a very bright girl, and that her mother was a hard worker. When the U4U opportunity came up, we really felt God calling us to invite Yana and Luda to apply. They are such worthy candidates.
Of course, Yana will miss her friends back at the orphanage in Ukraine. She has such fond memories of her time there – like First Bell. This is the first day of school, always on September 1, and it is the “Day of Knowledge.” The older kids dress up like they used to in first grade…I think most of the girls even squeeze back into their old uniform skirts (Thank you, Greater Atlanta Christian School – your donated uniforms are still going strong!)
Even though they want to forget the sound of daily air raid sirens, and how news of casualties’ spreads through the village, Yana and Luda will miss their old life in Ukraine. Moving from previously quiet fields of sunflowers to the cactus and desert of New Mexico is quite a difference. But as Yana says, “It will be difficult, but we believe that God will help us.” Please pray for Yana, Luda and all the other Ukrainians that have just arrived in America, who are doing their best to settle into a new way of life. We have many more Ukrainian refugees coming soon. If you would like to sponsor one of them, or help with airline tickets, please let us know!