Some Ukrainian refugees to find new houses in Maine with lend a hand from a fellow expat


Petro and Halyna Terzi of their new condominium in Auburn, Maine. The Terzis fled Ukraine within the early days of the battle and lived with a circle of relatives in Poland whilst they waited for his or her vacationer visas.

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Petro and Halyna Terzi of their new condominium in Auburn, Maine. The Terzis fled Ukraine within the early days of the battle and lived with a circle of relatives in Poland whilst they waited for his or her vacationer visas.

Esta Pratt-Kielley/Maine Public

AUBURN, Maine — On a heat spring afternoon, Halyna and Petro Terzi stepped into their new condominium in Auburn, Maine, for the primary time. A small staff of fellow Ukrainians used to be there to greet them.

Sporting blue and yellow balloons and a bouquet of plants wrapped in plastic, the couple walked into their sunny bed room overlooking the again backyard. They are going to be sharing this condominium with any other Ukrainian circle of relatives who arrived a number of weeks in the past.

With a tired-looking smile on his face, Petro decreased himself right into a cushy armchair subsequent to the mattress and let loose a deep sigh. His daughter, Alina Terzi, who is lived in Maine for a number of years, set down a few of her folks’ baggage.

“They’re so glad they are like ‘Reward the Lord we’re — we now have arrived,’ ” she stated, translating her father’s feedback in Russian.

The Terzis are from Odessa. They fled their house in past due February, a number of days into the Russian invasion. They went first to Moldova, then to Poland. There, volunteers with the 7th Day Adventist church attached them with a circle of relatives in Warsaw, who hosted them whilst the couple waited for the U.S. embassy to procedure their visa packages.

Halyna Terzi, from left, together with her husband Petro and their daughter Alina, consuming lunch in a while after Halyna and Petro arrived in Maine.

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Halyna Terzi, from left, together with her husband Petro and their daughter Alina, consuming lunch in a while after Halyna and Petro arrived in Maine.

Esta Pratt-Kielley/Maine Public

The Terzis ultimately secured vacationer visas, which enable them to stick in america for 6 months. However they plan on looking to keep longer — whether or not via making use of for asylum or via in search of circle of relatives reunification with daughter Alina.

The authentic refugee resettlement program in america is overseen via the government and comes to a long software procedure that incorporates referral from the United Countries and interviews with American immigration officers. The entire procedure can take as much as two years.

However hundreds of Ukrainians have already arrived in america, on vacationer visas, in the course of the Biden Management’s new expedited sponsorship program, or via presenting themselves to immigration officers on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Arriving with out the assistance of a refugee-resettlement company method many Ukrainians depend on members of the family or volunteers to protected fundamental wishes — together with housing.

That is the case for the Terzis. They got here on vacationer visas and moved right into a nondescript two-unit condominium belongings in Auburn that is turn into an not going hub of a DIY resettlement operation.

Oleg Opalnyk climbs into his paintings van after checking in at the Ukrainian households dwelling on the condominium development he owns in Auburn, Maine. Opalnyk says supporting the households can really feel overwhelming now and then, however that he is grateful so as to lend a hand.

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Oleg Opalnyk climbs into his paintings van after checking in at the Ukrainian households dwelling on the condominium development he owns in Auburn, Maine. Opalnyk says supporting the households can really feel overwhelming now and then, however that he is grateful so as to lend a hand.

Esta Pratt-Kielley/Maine Public

Oleg Opalnyk is the individual conserving this operation in combination.

Opalnyk could also be from Ukraine, and has lived in Maine since 2001. He runs a building industry and invests in condominium houses.

Opalnyk stated that when seeing the destruction the Russian military used to be causing on his house nation, he sought after to return.

“When the battle began I sought after to visit battle,” he stated.

However he talked himself out of that concept.

“And I made this determination that I might most likely lend a hand extra other people to offer protection to and provides them a head get started right here in [the] U.S. moderately than going and combating,” Opalnyk stated.

In mid-April he gave that head begin to a circle of relatives of 5 who already had a relative dwelling in Maine. He paid for his or her airfare and is housing them without cost.

Quickly after, he welcomed a 2d circle of relatives — Olha and Yurii Kutniak, at the side of their 11-year-old-son. They are now sharing their condominium with Halyna and Petro Terzi.

Halyna Terzi within the bed room of her new condominium in Auburn, Maine. Terzi arrived in Maine together with her husband Petro on Might 16.

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Halyna Terzi within the bed room of her new condominium in Auburn, Maine. Terzi arrived in Maine together with her husband Petro on Might 16.

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After fleeing Ukraine, the Kutniaks at first deliberate on going to Missouri, the place they’d a connection via their church group. But if they arrived in america after crossing the southern border, the ones plans modified.

Talking in Russian, Kutniak stated on the border they met a Ukrainian volunteer from an area 7th Day Adventist church, who additionally took place to be a chum of Opalnyk’s. The volunteer advised they believe Maine as a substitute, and informed them to name Opalnyk.

Kutniak stated the telephone name went so smartly that they modified their plans at the spot. They arrived in Maine on April 21.

Their 11-year-old son is beginning faculty, and his folks are inquisitive about getting their paintings lets in, with steering from Opalnyk.

With improve from his circle of relatives and his 7th Day Adventist church, Opalnyk has additionally helped the households with the whole thing from furnishing the residences to enrolling the children at school. He stated it is a full-time task — however a role he is glad to be doing.

Halyna Terzi, left, and her husband Petro climb the steps into their new condominium in Auburn, Maine, on Might 16. The couple have been dwelling in Poland after fleeing Ukraine within the early days of the battle.

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Halyna Terzi, left, and her husband Petro climb the steps into their new condominium in Auburn, Maine, on Might 16. The couple have been dwelling in Poland after fleeing Ukraine within the early days of the battle.

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“It is overwhelming, you already know, once in a while, however on the identical time, you already know, it is — I am very grateful that I’ve this skill to lend a hand,” he stated.

Together with the Terzis, Opalnyk is now supporting 11 Ukrainian evacuees. And he is already making ready to welcome two extra households.

Opalnyk says he will allow them to keep so long as they want hire unfastened, however is hoping that after they get their paintings lets in they will be capable to get started contributing to the fee.



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