Local church plans to send people to help refugees on Ukrainian border

TRI-CITES, Wash. — One local church is planning to take several people to the border of Ukraine to help refugees.

KAPP KVEW’s photojournalist Margo Cady spoke to extended family members about their plans in the coming weeks.

Vlad Savchuk immigrated as a refugee from Ukraine to the Tri-Cities in 1999. His wife, Lana Savchuk, immigrated from Russia as a refugee to Vancouver, WA in 2005. Today, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia has their full attention.

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“These are our people,” Vlad said. “We grew up there, even though I lived here longer than I lived in there, but I think that this hits home.”

Both the Savchuks have connections to people currently in Ukraine and Russia.

For Lana, a friend is currently protesting against the war. While she hasn’t heard from him a few days, she’s hopeful to hear from him soon.

“For regular people, regular Russian people who are not into politics, [and] regular Ukrainian people, we are like brothers and sisters,” Lana said. “We don’t necessarily see ‘Oh, this is them and this is us,’ you know?

“It’s important not to see a certain group of people as a whole,” Lana said. “The Russian people, they are not bad people. It’s the government, it’s the regime. And I think it’s very important to keep that in perspective, not to develop any racism against any nation.”

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In Ukraine, Vlad has family sheltering from Russian military forces. “They were hid on the first day, on Thursday, when Russia kind of deployed the rockets to the major cities, so their city was hit,” Vlad said.

“A lot of people are escaping Ukraine right now to go to Poland, Moldova, or Romania to try and find some shelter,” Vlad said.

Vlad is a pastor at Hungry Generation Church in Pasco, and has been in contact with Ukrainian humanitarian groups for weeks. Now, they’re helping fund around five underground groups helping refugees escape.

“We want to help the refugees, and we’re refugees ourselves,” Vlad said. “We have people that are working there.”

And by the end of the week, the Savchuk’s are planning to go to the Ukrainian border themselves, along with members of their church on a mission trip.

“I know kind of how that is, but I also know how broken people can become when they grow up in a very traumatic [environment],” Vlad said. “So that’s what we’re doing.”

READ: How to safely donate to Ukraine relief efforts