Hundreds of Ukrainians have found their way into California through the San Ysidro Port of Entry after traveling thousands of miles away from their war-torn country.
Some of them finally get a good night’s sleep in the comfort of a stranger’s home in Chula Vista. That includes five members of the Slonovska family who arrived in the South Bay city Thursday.
Olga Slonovska said the family left Ukraine about two weeks ago and traveled through Turkey, Paris, Mexico City, and Tijuana before getting to California. They’re headed to stay with Olga’s sister-in-law who lives in Colorado.
“Now, we’re feeling good,” Olga said through a translator.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
The family went straight from the border to Calvary San Diego in Chula Vista where volunteers arranged for meals, rides, and places to stay for any Ukrainian refugees until they begin the next leg of their journeys.
“We’re very surprised. We did not expect that,” smiled Olga.
Raman Slonovska said it’s the first time his family will have time to rest in days.
“Now we finally can relax, and we feel safe, and we feel very welcome,” he said through the translator.
“We need to help,” proclaimed Calvary Christian member Ana Casillas.
Casillas has opened her home to nine Ukrainian families since they started arriving a few weeks ago. She said some families simply need a shower and a nap. Others needed to stay a couple of days until flying out to their family or next host’s hometown.
“Honestly? God called me to,” said Casillas. “And I figure I can share my house with people that have nothing.”
She said she uses Google Translate to navigate Ukrainian or Russian language barriers.
“It makes me happy to know I’m able to help,” Casillas nodded.
Olga Slonovska was grateful for people like Casillas. However, she admitted her family missed home in Ukraine.