We would like to introduce you to a sibling trio and their families from Ukraine. They are currently fleeing their homes and their country.

 

Oleksii Bihlenko is the eldest brother, he is married to his wife, Natasha and together they have a son named Platon(9) and a daughter named Maria (5). Oleksii is still in Ukraine, trying to find a way to rejoin his family as they were separated at the border. Leaving Ukraine is proving more difficult by the day as fuel is hard to come by and food and supplies are scarce. Natasha and their children are currently in Poland, in a one-bedroom apartment being shared with 2 other families. Natasha's mother and sister are still in Ukraine, their lives uprooted and their homes destroyed, leaving Ukraine is looking less and less optimistic with every passing hour.

 

Andrii Bihlenko is the middle brother, he is married to his wife Anastasiia and together they have a daughter named Eva(4). Andrii is still in Ukraine as well, he is with Oleksii. In the last 3 days, both brothers were forced to decide to put their families in a van and send them across the border into Poland to the mercy of strangers to get them through.


Julia Kharebashvili (nee Bihlenko) is the sister to Oleksii and Andrii, she is married to Zaza Kharebashvili who is Georgian and was living in Ukraine on a visa, as such, he was able to leave Ukraine the day after his family, and he has been reunited with Julia and their daughter, Maria (5) and their other daughter, who is two (2).

 

This family sits in Poland together and at least once a day I hear a whole bunch of Ukrainian chatter from a corner of a room as they receive more news that someone’s house or business is completely destroyed, that their home is no more. In addition, their dollar has become worthless, while in Poland, they were unable to exchange their money as their hryvnia is essentially worthless at this time. They went from a life that was normal and thriving to a life where they are homeless, separated from their loved ones and scared.

 

Global National did a piece on the families we are talking about and if you are interested you can watch it here: https://globalnews.ca/video/8655759/these-are-my-people-canadian-woman-flies-to-poland-helps-ukraines-refugee-families/ or read about it here: https://globalnews.ca/news/8655074/putin-is-coming-family-escape-ukraine/

 

 Our goal is to get this family into a safe country, they have expressed interest in coming to Canada as Canadian Refugees and while we have started to explore that process, it won’t happen fast enough, there is also the concern about leaving their husbands behind, they are scared and vulnerable and they need to feel safe before they can begin to make plans for the future. Right now, there is an immediate need for food and shelter, the apartment that has been housing them all, is not available after March 5, 2022. We will need to find them accommodations further away from the border and keep them fed, sheltered, and clothed until the Canadian Government is able to receive them or until they are able to receive asylum somewhere in Europe. 


The families are also worried about the two men left behind and are hesitant to come to Canada without the rest of their family unit, funds for gas and supplies for Oleskii and Andrii are needed as they try to make their way out of Ukraine, and funds are needed to continue to care for their wives and children while they navigate the complexities of being a refugee. It is also our hope to purchase a van for Oleskii so he can continue helping women and children get to the border.


Any funds received that exceed the costs we are foreseeing will be applied to helping these families get settled in Canada, or wherever they end up next.


Additionally, Heidi is visiting refugee camps daily and bringing the Ukrainian people basic necessities, such as feminine hygiene products, deodorants, toothbrushes, etc.