A Home For The Stranded

Sofia Kardash on providing a safe place to stay for family friends uprooted by the war in Ukraine.

Lindsey Smith, Arts & Entertainment Editor

On February 22, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine and the country was changed forever. Ukraine’s regional capital, Kherson Oblast, was overturned and occupied by Russian military forces, ultimately leading to the occupation of more cities and towns. Slowly troops invaded, but in an instant a free nation lost the sense of peace and independence. Train stations overflowed with a population of people that were scared and frightened. Families were torn apart, friends were separated, homes were destroyed. Civilians said their goodbyes to those they had to leave behind, they said goodbye to husbands, fathers, and brothers that stayed to fight. Among the upheaval, among the chaos of fear and the feeling of the unknown stood a family. A unit of three stood alongside the innocent forced to flee, they packed whatever they could carry and boarded their passage to America.

   Senior Sofia Kardash knows people uprooted from the war in Ukraine. A Ukrainian herself, the moment the war started her home was opened to the friends that were stranded. For stranded family, however, the process of coming to America was not easy. “They came from Ukraine, they lived there, but to get here, even with visas, was hard. They have a five year-old son that they had to get an emergency visa. They went from Ukraine to Moldova, then Moldova to Germany, where they were able to obtain the visas necessary to come to the United States.” After securing a place to stay, the family had to apply for TPS, Temporary Protected Status, which allows migrants from unsafe countries to take up residence and work in the United States. Still, the family faced challenges with education. While the five-year-old child was eligible for school, the 18-year old high school graduate was unable to apply to colleges here without paying a large fee. 

     The family was close friends with Sofia’s mother so there was no debate that the Ukrainian family would stay with Sofia. “My mom knew them since she was seven, they are really, really long-time friends so she told them to come.” With Sofia’s family the only available resource in America, her Ukrainian friends didn’t debate the situation either, accepting the invitation and starting a life for themselves here. 

    The difficulties were acute for both the family friends, and Sofia. Sofia explained her previous living situation compared to when they arrived: “For me it was just different having more people there. It’s always just my mom and I, so having three other people, one of which is so much younger, was just different at first, but it definitely was not as difficult or strange for me as it was for them.” The family had to adapt to a new country, a new way of life, a new language, and learn how to make comforts out of new, unfamiliar surroundings. With previous aspirations and plans put on hold, Sofia understands the gravity of the situation and she did her best to provide a sense of comfort and peace to her guests.

   As Sofia puts it, her situation was not nearly as difficult as that of her guests, migrants have the brute force of a war that continues to destroy their country always as a backthought in their mind. However, Sofia’s decision to open her home to the shaken guests is no small feat either. Out of morality and sympathy for the situation, Sofia experienced difficulties as well, and knows first hand how war can change a nation and the people inside. With a final thought, she urges people to educate themselves on what is happening in Ukraine and stand up for the nation of blue and yellow, the nation that was once independent and not in a fight for freedom. “Be sensitive to the people of Ukraine,” she finishes. A land struck by gunpowder and military tanks, a sense of peace was restored by the simple action of opening up a home to those without one. Sofia and her mother did just that and received the small gift of understanding and learning the brutalities that others persevere through. In the face of war, Sofia took action and made her home a beacon of light for those whose light dimmed with the dawn of a new, harsh reality.