CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WKBW) — After four anxious months, a Ukrainian refugee family has finally arrived in their new home here in Western New York.
The family, who arrived in Buffalo Thursday morning, had to deal with a delayed flight departing from La Guardia Airport, in Queens.
Though, that was far from all they had to wait. They came to Western New York from Ukraine, in a trip that was first supposed to happen in February.
A #Ukrainian family of 8 who fled the war has finally touched down in #Buffalo this morning! Here’s video of the warm welcome from their family friend and members of the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center as they walked through the passenger exit doors at @BUFAirport!🇺🇦🇺🇸 @WKBW pic.twitter.com/4ylXSZoksR— Pheben Kassahun (@PhebenKassahun) June 23, 2022
The Goryachkina's, a family of eight, are among the millions of people who have left their home country, since Russia began its invasion, in late February.
"I would say we just trusted God for what he has for us and we just kept praying," Zhenya Goryachkina, who is one of the six children, said.
The Goryachkina's felt the "City of Good Neighbor's" love, as they exited the terminal at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
The family's sponsor, Natalia Vasylchuk said, "We are glad they are here!"
The family has been traveling for the last 24 hours, but their real journey began in Poland where they sought refuge in early March, after the Ukraine-Russia war began.
From Poland, they flew to Frankfort, Germany, then New York City where they were delayed for one night on Wednesday, due to inclement weather. They eventually made their way to Buffalo.
Vasylchuk said, "We were expecting them to come, back on February 17, I believe and they got positive for COVID. On the day that the war broke out, they were out of quarantine, but they could not live in the country anymore. It took several days to leave the country, get through the border to travel to Hungary and travel through several countries in Europe."
"It was not easy to wait, especially for my mom because she has some heart problems. Some diagnosis basically. We were mostly worried about her and how she would go through this process of waiting," Goryachkina said.
Natalia Vasylchuk is the family's sponsor, also known as an anchor relative. She and a village of Buffalonians of various religious organizations, native speakers and the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center of Buffalo, New York, were able to gather necessities for the family's arrival.
"I couldn't do it myself. We are the village guys. So, the whole entire Buffalo community, Ukrainian-Russian speakers, Pentecostal, Orthodox, Baptist, random people from the community opened their hearts. They donated so much stuff. We feel so blessed! We were able to rent a house and put everything. We have multiple volunteers who came last week working through 12 o'clock and 1 o'clock in the morning to set up the beds," Vasylchuk said. "It's amazing. People want to help, they want to come support, meet and take care of their needs."
Each member of the family arrived to Buffalo with just one personal bag and a checked bag. The last 24 hours, the family has had limited sleep due to traveling.
"It was still a good time. We met wonderful people. There were so many people that were helping refugees and they were so kind, so nice to us and we were just for everything and what was happening there[Poland]," Goryachkina said.
These new Western New Yorkers said they are grateful to be looking forward to getting acquainted with the area and helping other refugees in need.