Ukrainian refugees

Ukrainian Refugee Family Giving Back at House of Ukraine in Balboa Park

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Oksana Mushchenko has spent three out of her first five days here in the U.S. volunteering her time at the House of Ukraine. Mushchenko and her husband and two kids fled their home country four weeks ago after being woken up one morning by loud blasts.

“It's devastating," Mushchenko said. “The tragedy we experienced is just heartbreaking.”

The Mushchenkos are part of the nearly 10 million people who have fled their homes since Russia invaded Ukraine.

“My kids ask me every day, 'When are we going back home?” Mushchenko said. “My youngest son asks me about kindergarten.”

And like most, they don’t know the answer to that question.

“We have no place to go back to because Russians destroyed and ruined our cities and to restore them it will take I don't know how long,” Mushchenko said.

The Mushchenkos arrived in San Diego on Sunday after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border on an asylum plea.

“I dreamed of visiting America but only for like two days, and only myself without family,” said Mushchenko. 

Volunteers at the House of Ukraine have welcomed and helped nearly a dozen families get settled all while dealing with their own stress and fear.

“Every morning for me, I’m so scared to press the buttons and call my mom and find out if she's still alive,” said Nina Kay, volunteer at the House of Ukraine. Kay’s mother is still in Ukraine.

“It's just difficult to believe that it's real, that it's happening right now,” said Kay.

Now four weeks into the war, these two women hold on to each other for strength as their hope for a better tomorrow begins to fade.

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