As the world’s eyes are on Ukraine and Eastern Europe right now, our eyes too are watching the headlines, listening to the stories, and hoping, with all the hope we can muster, for peace and justice. The headlines we read often describe places that feel far removed from our own communities in the Pacific Northwest, and yet, these stories, whether from Afghanistan, Myanmar, or Yemen, are closer than they sometimes feel.
Over the last few decades, Oregon has become home to thousands of people that first called Ukraine home. As our Ukrainian neighbors cultivate growing communities in Portland neighborhoods, they continue to navigate long distance relationships with friends and family back home. In the midst of it all, their homeland is steeped in turmoil and unknowns, a manifestation of escalating tensions now coming to a terrifying fruition.
This past week, we were honored to be able to welcome a family of 12 from Ukraine that will now call Portland their new home. As news of war breaking out filled media streams, they began the hard work of rebuilding their lives in a foreign place. This family, who has been waiting to come to the United States for years through the refugee resettlement program, now holds the tension of hope in this new home as well as grief in every step they’ll take into these new chapters of life.
This family of new neighbors, with 10 kids ranging from toddler to teenager, were welcomed by folks that have been ready and waiting. As the grief over what was happening in their first home was taking new, sorrow-filled shape, they were receiving diapers, supplies to fill their kitchen, and pillows to rest their heavy heads on that night.
Sometimes hope is a warm hug, sometimes it’s a new colander for the kitchen. Sometimes it feels insignificant in the face of tragedy. However, it is a choice to extend hope, in any way we can, as we receive a picture of what true hope looks like in the eyes of our newest neighbors.
As Ukrainian families and individuals seek refuge across the world, Refugee Care Collective will be ready to welcome and come alongside those who find themselves in Oregon, whether in the months or years to come.
Due to airspace closures and other complications, travel arrangements for a number of Ukrainian families who were supposed to arrive in late February and early March have been canceled. We will likely see a significant increase in Ukrainian families through refugee resettlement, and will provide updates as we have more information. We are grateful for a community of people who are ready to provide tangible support, welcome, and care to our newest neighbors.