Sasha’s Journey from Ukraine to Delaware

When you make a gift to support the work at JFS, you are directly supporting individuals who receive our services.

Individuals like Sasha, who was forced to flee her home in Ukraine and seek refuge and safety in the United States.

Please read on to hear Sasha’s story in her own words.

My name is Sasha and I am 39 years old. I am happily married and have a beautiful daughter who is 12 years old and is enrolled into 7th grade.

Sasha’s Daughter

My entire family lives in Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine. My husband works at the National Bank of Ukraine. I used to work at a prestigious Dental Supply Company in the marketing and sales department. All the adults in my family have higher education, predominantly in finance and chemistry.

When the war started on February 24 at 4 am, we woke up shaking because everything in our apartment was trembling. Later on, we found out that a bomb exploded just 200 yards away from our apartment. All the windows were bending inside out, and a neighboring building collapsed. 

Building Next Door

Despite the confusion and fear, everyone in my family was trying to stay calm and think straight. We slowly exited our apartment building. We lived on the fifth floor, so it was difficult to navigate the stairs due to the dust and darkness. 

We tried to find refuge in a bomb shelter, but it was locked! The next day, my husband cut the locks on the door, and we walked into an abandoned facility that was supposed to be a shelter. It was a miserable place, filled with puddles of water, mold, and lots of rats. But it did not stop us from cleaning it and making it a livable space to our best ability. 

Shortly after, my husband insisted for us to be evacuated, so I took my child and our cat, along with another family of four (mother and three kids), and drove several hours to a nearby village, which was only 35 miles away. The road was a scene from a Hollywood horror movie- we were witnessing burned and bombed out cars, and at times it was difficult to maneuver in order to avoid running over the many corpses on the road.. I still remember the airplanes that were flying and the horrible noise that they were making … It is a miracle that we are still alive, because we were trapped in traffic, and we were praying that a bomb would not fall on us. Death was everywhere!

When we arrived at that village we were starving and crying… an older gentleman who was blind offered us a small piece of bread, telling us that children should be fed, and he doesn’t mind dying because he had lived a long life. We stayed in that village for approximately two weeks before moving to the western part of Ukraine because it was no longer safe to remain in that village. 

Sleeping on the floor

It took us two days to get to the city of Ternopol (it usually takes three hours). When we reached our destination, we had to stay in a tiny room of only 30 sq ft for eight people! All of us, including animals, had to sleep on the ice-cold floor. I got very sick, but couldn’t find anyone to treat me.

After staying in Western Ukraine for about two months, we ended up going to Bulgaria. As soon as I arrived there, I was hospitalized and underwent an urgent surgery. My blood was infected and the doctors were skeptical that I would survive.

Again, by the grace of G-d, I survived. When I was laying in the ER, I remembered a story that my grandmother told me when I was a young.

My great grandmother was highly educated, which was uncommon back then for a woman to have higher education. When Nazis invaded Ukraine in 1941, her family pulled from death row two young Jewish people who were waiting to be executed.  

Someone found out that my great grandparents were sheltering Jews, so they reported them to the authorities and my great grandparents instantly became a target for Nazis. They had to flee and hide for a very long period of time. Nonetheless, they continued to hold true to their principles, and they were able to save another Jewish couple from being executed.

I never thought that I would be reliving the horrific realities that my ancestors had to endure. I am sharing this story because G-d has a way to turn things out in an unpredictable way. Who would have thought that after 70 years, my daughter and I would flee to Delaware to seek peace and safety?! 

It is an honor for me to receive services and much needed support from JFS. 

JFS has wonderful staff because they warmly greeted us and have demonstrated their kindness and care. It is hard for me to believe that there are people like Vlad and Rina, who are strangers to us, but they have shown their unwavering commitment to support us in any way they can.

I am so grateful that my daughter was enrolled into Friends School of Wilmington, and she is enjoying every single day meeting new friends and teachers. 

I do remain optimistic, and I look forward to acquiring new skills and knowledge that I can utilize when I return to Ukraine. I really miss my family; my father, who is 64 years old, is still fighting on the front and it is frightening to realize that his life is in danger…

I would like to conclude my story by thanking JFS from the bottom of my heart for the warm welcome and enormous support that we continue to receive. We are so lucky to be beneficiaries of JFS because you are making our lives more stable and comforting. Thank you JFS staff for being there and helping us!  

Through intensive, culturally sensitive case management services, our Refugee Integration Support Effort (RISE) program helps refugees and other immigrants integrate and make a home in their new communities, obtain and retain employment, and establish and maintain healthy lifestyles to achieve self-sufficiency. Last year alone, your gifts helped JFS resettle over 65 families from Ukraine, Sudan, Turkey, Syria, Cuba, Haiti and Afghanistan.

All this amazing work happens because of your generous spirit. Please visit to make a gift today.