Waxhaw family welcomes Ukrainian family fleeing war for safety

“We want to believe that everything will be okay in our country,”
It's been two weeks since this Ukrainian family made their way to North Carolina, fleeing from the war in Ukraine.
Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 6:39 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As thousands of refugees continue to flee Ukraine many are looking for new homes or temporary places to stay across the world seeking safety.

One family in Waxhaw opened their doors to a Ukrainian family so they can have a better life in America.

It’s been two weeks since this Ukrainian family made their way to North Carolina.

They fled Ukraine to stay safe, traveling through several countries before making it to America with no place to go, and thankfully, a Waxhaw family answered their call for help.

“It’s amazing how well we co-exist,” said Heather Leavitt, who opened her home to the Ukrainian family.

Both families have known each other for two weeks now. “Sharing kitchen space, sharing refrigerator space, driving,” Leavitt added.

Natilia Plagonenko, who is from the Donbas Region of Ukraine said, “we’re happy that we found the family.”

Their journey started in March when they fled their home in the Donbas region of Ukraine because of the war.

“The deciding fact is it’s far from war, far from war, very far from war,” said Plagonenko.

Over a month’s time, the family of three traveled through several countries to the U.S. seeking safety.

“They’re so brave to do what they did, that’s what my husband keeps saying, imagine leaving your country with two suitcases and a 5-year-old child and making that journey,” said Leavitt.

After making it to the U.S., the family reached out to Leavitt in Waxhaw, who signed up to host people from Ukraine after the war started.

Leavitt added, “there’s nothing better for us to do at this time in our lives than to help this family.”

Over the past two weeks, a lot has happened.

People in Waxhaw have donated clothes, toys, and a car, and enrolled their son in school.

“It’s been really incredible what the people of Waxhaw have done for this family,” said Leavitt.

Serhii Tkachenko said in Russian, “firstly, we feel safe, we feel safe, the United States has provided us with such an opportunity as a refuge from the war of Putin’s lawlessness.”

Back home in Ukraine, Serhii was a personal driver and Natilia was a photographer.

A life they miss but had to leave behind.

Plagonenko said, “of course, we miss our parents and our friends from Ukraine, it’s very scary.”

Their loved ones are close to the fighting, and they know people in need of help, so they’re asking Americans to open their doors like the Leavitts did for them.

“They want to get away from war, save their children and they need some places where they can stay temporary until the war will end,” said Plagonenko.

“We hope to return to our county,” said Tkachenko.

“We want to believe that everything will be okay in our country,” Plagonenko added.

The family from Ukraine found safe housing in Waxhaw through a site called “Ukraine Take Shelter,” It was created to help Ukrainian refugees find a host family.

The road ahead is long for them as they wait on temporary protected status and documents so they can work and earn money in the U.S.

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