NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Hundreds of people came to St. Michaels’ Church in New Haven for a fundraiser in support of Ukraine, including one family that just escaped the country and is seeking refuge in Connecticut.
Kristina Bizyayev is grateful she and her family are finally in the U.S.
“Thank God we are here and we are safe,” Kristina said.
Two days after their arrival, Kristina and her husband Yevgemiy and their boys visited a make-shift market selling Ukrainian goods to benefit their home country. This included jewelry, baskets, handmade clothes, and pastries – reminding them of their culture that is now under attack.
“We felt this war beginning from the very start,” Yevgemiy said.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, it wasn’t long before missiles reahced Kharkiv, destroying part of their apartment complex.
“Three days were enough for us to understand that either we leave, or we will die,” Kristina said.
The family left Ukraine on March 1 and spent the rest of the month traveling to Moldova, Romania, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland before making it to Connecticut. They’re staying with Gaye Hyre and her family in West Haven.
“America is a country of refuge and we all just need to remember that all the time,” Hyre said.
They connected through an online service helping Ukrainian refugees find shelter in the U.S. Local churches and synagogues supplies them with a crib, diapers, and other items they may need. Hyre noted that people have been “marvelous,” giving Legos and matchbox cars for the boys.
“We are very welcomed by Gaye here and by Americans,” Kristina said.
The Bizyayevs appreciate all of the support as they start to adjust to their new life, but they can’t help but think about their family still in Ukraine, fighting for their lives in Mariupol.
“No city at all,” Kristina said. “They destroyed everything, and I don’t know where is my mom.”
Kristina said they are comforted knowing their country is united by both their president and its citizens, giving them comfort knowing their country is united.