Cover image: The Voronetskyi Family. BACK: Anastasia, Oleksandr Jr., Oksana, Oleksandr Sr., Maria. FRONT: Lidiia, Yeva.
Oksana and her husband Oleksandr Voronetskyi are Utah’s first post-conflict Ukrainian refugee family, and she spoke Saturday night at a fundraising event at UVU for the 501©3 charity ToUkraineWithLove.
This is what she said:
Thank you for gathering today to show support to the people of Ukraine and for not being indifferent to our devastation. I feel your care and love with all my heart.
When this horrific war broke out and our cities began to be bombed, my husband and I were on vacation on an island in the Indian Ocean. But our four children were in Kyiv on February 24. In the morning a friend from America called us and told us this terrible news. We contacted my mother and she confirmed that explosions were heard and that a military unit had arrived and that a large fire had erupted near our house.
We were in despair and started looking for a way to get home. However, the airport in Kyiv was destroyed, and it was impossible to fly home. We began to move in the direction of the nearest country, Poland. We were in despair and did not know how to protect our children. In this difficult situation, all we could do was pray and trust in God. And God began to send us “angels.” A friend from Kyiv called us and offered to take his and our family to Poland.
As we sat at the airport and asked Heavenly Father where to go next and what to do, He sent us an “angel” again. It was our missionary, Jake Fillmore, who brought us into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 22 years earlier, when we were baptized.
Jake invited us to come to America. He and his wife, Jessica, and other friends of ours—like Vasily Osipenko’s family—began to take full care of us. After our arduous journey of 10 days, we were completely tired and exhausted and felt like we had arrived in heaven when we met up with the family of Cassie and David Staffer. We felt the true love of God in their family. It felt like the Staffers were my parents, and we were at home. All this time Jessica helped us arrange for our children to get to school, to get vaccinated. As then, with much joy, our beloved, noisy, merry, second missionary Jason Wonk came to us!
- He and his family helped us buy a car, and now we can be independent and take care of the children. During this short time-period of just the last two months, two of our children had birthdays. And all our American friends made a wonderful holiday for them with gifts, a cake with candles, congratulations. Our friends did not leave us for a day! We constantly feel them and your support. These people thought of everything. They even found toys to replace our children’s favorite toys that they had to leave behind in Ukraine.
- And the fact that we are so well dressed now is thanks to you! And the fact that we now have food is thanks to you! The house where we now live in the family of Kerry and Eliot Nelson is a fabulous place near the temple. They gave us the whole floor and we all have separate rooms and a beautiful park nearby. Our children may not have learned and memorized the scriptures in English very well yet, but they have memorized your love for a lifetime, and we will carry through our lives the feeling that God cares for us through you! We thank you! You are our angels!
- You have helped our family and continue to help the whole of Ukraine! You are an example for the whole world! We have all seen that this war is aimed at destroying the Ukrainian people. The Russian military is killing civilians, shooting women and children, killing the elderly! They destroy human values and threaten the whole world!
I thank all our soldiers who are now defending our country and giving their lives for our freedom! And only with your help will we be able to defeat the enemy by uniting our efforts! We pray for our soldiers and our fellow Ukrainians every day. We are grateful to you for helping us and our defenders! And we must protect the freedom not only of Ukraine! All over the world! Thank you for standing up for peaceful people, for justice! Glory to America! Glory to Ukraine! Glory to our heroes!
What is ToUkraineWithLove?
This was organized immediately after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to provide relief through supplies and donations. Within a week of the invasion, this grassroots effort collected over $70,000 of supplies, including medicine, food, protective gear, unarmed eye-in-the-sky drones, first-aid items and other necessities. ToUkraineWithLove.org has arranged for chaperoned transport directly to Ukrainian citizens and entrenched in battle and in desperate need.