‘We just had to go:’ Ukrainian families arrive in Spokane and start their lives from scratch

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — Spokane has welcomed six Ukrainian families, now trying to adjust to life in America. They escaped the war and left everything behind.

The families made it to Spokane over the past week. Many of them have children to take care of and now have to start their lives from scratch.

“We’re not even really sure why this is happening and what our nation did to deserve this kind of penalty,” said Julie, who escaped with her husband Nick and their four kids.

They hid in a cellar for days in Kharkiv. They couldn’t get food or water.

“One time we were in a particular cellar and the explosions were so heavy that the chandeliers were all falling from the ceiling and breaking all around them,” Nick explained.

They had to make a heartbreaking decision.

“Because of our children, we realized there’s no future here,” Julie said. “We couldn’t get anything, so we just had to go.”

Other families had the same thought, like Alexander and Olga. After hearing explosions for days, they also left with their three children.

“It was extremely difficult. My wife is still dealing with that every day,” Alexander said.

Both families traveled for days to get out. Along the way, Nick and his wife picked up two children. The family helped them reunite with their loved ones across the border.

They also met an 11-year-old boy whose mother was killed in an explosion.

“I personally just wanted to get my children out of this nightmare,” Alexander said.

With some help from friends in Spokane, the families made it to the United States in about a month.

“We’re extremely thankful to God that we made it, even though we lost everything,” Nick said. “We’re extremely grateful that our family is safe, our family is whole and our family is together.”

While they’re thankful, they’re not sure what the future holds.

“We want to go back. They’re dreaming about going back because their parents are still there. They dream about that every night,” Olga said.

Uncertain about Ukraine’s future, they’re going to stay in Spokane for now and try to rebuild their lives. Alexander says they want to find jobs and start learning English.

Nick and his wife Julie say help is needed and a simple gesture will go a long way.

“Things as small as assistance in just a conversation, friendship, a relationship,” Julie said. “Helping us out in terms of where do we go, where’s this, how do we get from here to here.”

Roller Valley is collecting furniture and other household items for the families starting March 28. You can drop them off during normal business hours. You can also donate here. 

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