Connect with us

Local News

Reflections from Ukrainian refugees living in Arkansas on the one-year of the Russian invasion



Conway, Arkansas – It has been exactly one whole year since Russia invaded Ukraine since the invasion became official.

The Associated Press reported that thousands of people have died and millions of people have fled Ukraine in order to go to countries that are neighboring Ukraine. This has been a year of conflict and uncertainty for millions of people. Arkansas served as a place of refuge for a number of displaced people.

The Shevchenko family is originally from the city of Kryvyi Rih, which is located in the center of Ukraine. The family has mentioned that they can still recall the day that their lives were turned completely upside down. Hearing the sound of explosions, their anxiety, and the fear that was clearly visible in the eyes of their children.

They were forced to flee their homeland in Ukraine and eventually settled in Arkansas with the assistance of Conway’s Fellowship Bible Church. This marked a significant turning point in their lives.

According to Anatolii Shevchenko, he still recalls the day that his country was invaded.

“I woke up because of the explosion very close by. About 30 seconds later we heard another massive explosion, and all of our windows were shaking,” Shevchenko said.

He describes how the feeling of panic came from all directions.

“My phone started ringing. It was my mom, and she was screaming on the phone “this is the war,” Shevchenko said.

He continues by saying that he, his wife Vita, and their two sons, Gleb, 17, and Kyrylo, 13, had to quickly scramble out of their apartment building with what they could carry.

“All they have their whole life in 3 little suitcases,” Shevchenko said.

Shevchenko claims that he has a disability in one of his legs that requires him to walk with the assistance of a cane. He goes on to say that his greatest fear was that he would have to convince his family to continue on without him because he believed he would hold them back. However, he claims that his family refused to abandon him. After driving to pick up his mother, they traveled to a village outside of the city for a couple of weeks, but they did not find any comfort in their surroundings.

“We saw killed kids and parents and we were afraid that if we waited too long, we would be attacked,” Shevchenko said.

He claims that in March 2022 they traveled an evaluation route towards Lviv, which is located in the western region of Ukraine, and that he drove nonstop for twenty-four hours without stopping for sleep because he was concerned about what might occur if they did so. According to Shevchenko, once they arrived in Lviv, they were told about Samaritan’s Purse, an aid organization that could assist them in finding refuge in the United States.

“We had a family meeting and we put together 2 boys and we explained we don’t know the language so it will be very difficult,” Shevchenko said.

Shevchenko claims that he submitted his application to the aid organization in April 2022, and shortly after learning that it had been accepted, they discovered that they would be receiving assistance from Conway’s Fellowship Bible Church. According to him, by the month of July 2022, they boarded a bus in order to enter Poland, and then they took a plane to Germany in order to catch a connecting flight to Houston, where they caught their last flight to Arkansas. Which is where they made the connections that led to the church members providing them with housing in Conway.

“As soon as we walked in our minds were blown away,” Shevchenko said.

According to his wife Vita, the fact that their family finally has a home to call their own has lifted a significant burden off of their backs, and for the first time since the conflict began, they have experienced a sense of relief.

“I feel that there is a future, and it will be a good future, I know that everything will be good,” Mrs. Shevchenko said.

She goes on to say that she worked as an accountant in Ukraine and that her husband Anatolii owned a business there; however, they had to leave all of that behind because of the war, and now they are doing the best they can to support their family despite the fact that language barriers and cultural differences exist between them.

As a mother, she expresses her gratitude that both of her sons are currently attending school and gaining an education.

She went on to say that while she cannot say for certain whether or when they will return to Ukraine, they will always be proud to be Ukrainian.

“A year has passed but people are still united helping each other,” Mrs. Shevchenko said.

Both of them say that they are going to keep doing everything in their power to support their country, and they pray that the war will end soon.

Continue Reading

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *