Ukraine refugees reunite with family in Connecticut, share harrowing experience
The Voytovych family is welcoming their family members who fled their homes in Ukraine as the war with Russia rages on.
Ross and Julie Voytovych, with help from Rep. Jim Himes’ office, were able to get bring Julie’s mother, Nadiya Voytovych, to Connecticut on a green card. Her sister, Taisia Kostenko, and 2-year-old niece, Emiliia, came on a visa.
MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Ridgefield woman with help of Rep. Himes brings Ukranian family safely to Connecticut
Nadiya, Kostenko and Emillia fled Kyiv and headed to the Siret border in Romania. Kostenko shared her experience with News 12.
“I left all of my life,” says Kostenko. “I packed it in one baggage.”
Kostenko described what it was like having to leave her husband behind.
“I was crying all the way from the border to Bucharest,” says Kostenko. “When I was crossing the border, I didn’t believe I'm leaving my husband was there and the hardest part is I don’t know how long.”
While Nadiya was able to come to the U.S. quickly thanks to her green card, Kostenko and Emiliia were stuck for weeks in Romania while her sister, Julia, reached out to senators trying to help with getting them visas.
Rep. Himes was able to expedite their visas, allowing Kostenko and her daughter to be reunited with her family at Newark Airport.
Voytovych expressed her deep appreciation for what everyone is doing in the U.S. to help her people in Ukraine.
Despite the happy family reunion in Ridgefield, they are still worried about the devastation that is happening in the homeland and the family that still remains there by choice.
“The hardest part is to be nervous for them because God forbid something happens,” says Voytovych. “It would be really difficult for us to forgive ourselves because we didn’t press them to leave hard enough.”
As the community around them in Connecticut supports them, the family holds on to hope.
“People who were here, it’s part of their life,” says Voytovych. “They don’t realize, but me who experienced different culture, I’m amazed by the American people.”