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Ukrainian family finds refuge in Fallbrook

Avalon Hester

Village News Intern

It was Feb. 25, 2022, when Russians invaded the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Thousands fled from the city as the fighting began, including those from adjacent areas. Three days later, Hanna and Igor Rohozhynska were forced to flee their home in the adjacent city of Irpin with their 5 and 4 year old boys and their brand new baby girl. Three days later, when the family returned, they found their house completely destroyed by a Russian shell.

The family of five fled to Germany, hoping to ride out the worst of the fighting, but nearly a year and a half later, with their daughter now taking her first steps, they have realized that a return to Ukraine is not coming soon.

This is where Fallbrook locals Freddy and Tetiana Dubon came to help, offering to sponsor the family through United for Ukraine, a program that offers immediate work permits and social security numbers on a temporary basis for Ukrainians that have a family willing and able to help them get on their feet in America.

Tetiana Dupon is originally from Ukraine, she's been here for eight years. Hanna Rohozhynska is her best friend; they met at work 11 years ago. Seeing what has been happening during the war in Ukraine has been difficult for her, so far away from home. When they first started hearing about it on the news Freddy said "We can help. We can help whoever wants help."

At first Freddy was shocked by how many people didn't want to come to America. Instead they fled to Germany and Poland, "Staying close to Ukraine so they could return when the fighting ended," explained Freddy. Now, as the brutal conflict continues without an end in sight, many have realized that a return to home may not ever be possible, and are willing to get to work immediately in the hopes of rebuilding their life in the United States.

This is the case for the Rohozhynskas whose house was built on government owned land that developers and housing aid groups are unwilling to begin rebuilding on, according to Freddy.

The process to sponsor a family from Ukraine involves filling out a I-134A Form, requiring the disclosure of all financial information to prove means to support a family while they begin working.

Tetiana is hopeful, "[Igor] is very good with his hands; he can build a house from scratch and knows about woodworking." The family is working on getting him hired on the expansion build for the elementary school that his children are set to attend. Hanna will be home with the baby while they establish housing.

Tetiana and Freddy are expecting a full house, as they're also trying to help Tetiana's brother escape Ukraine. They only have one bedroom to use in their home for hosting, but they're willing to give it to the family for as long as it takes to find other accommodations, "We're looking for low income accommodations, maybe an RV, while they get on their feet."

Freddy emphasized just how great of a leap Hanna and Igor are taking, "They're going to need everything, spoons, a microwave, they're completely restarting their life."

"We're doing everything we can," Tetiana added "We're willing to give all we have, she's my best friend."

The process has been difficult, "When you apply and you don't hear back for months, you wonder what's happening," said Freddy. After reaching out to others that have also participated in the program, they found that it usually takes around 90 days.

"If the process continues as expected, they should be here at the end of October," added Freddy.

North Coast Church in Fallbrook is helping the Dupon's coordinate donations for the family to set them up with the essentials. For more information, call the church at 760-724-6700.


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