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It is said that “Anyone who saves a single life, it is as if they save the entire world”. At MHJC, we have the opportunity to do just that.We have “adopted” the Ukrainian family of Olha Kupriyan, her husband Sashko, and their seven-year-old daughter, Yasya.Olha is a Ukrainian writer of children’s and adolescent literature. In her early 30s, she recently fended off cancer, only to find herself displaced by war. While all men have been required to stay in Ukraine since the war broke out, Olha and Yasya were able to escape to Poland. Their village of Makovyshche, in the Kyiv region, is one of those that was brutally occupied and then vacated by Russian troops. Piecing together reports from the media, neighbors and family members who have since returned, Olha describes a house that, among widespread destruction, is miraculously still standing but has been broken into and that, to her mind, has been “raped and changed beyond recognition”.Yasya recently suffered a badly broken arm while playing on a playground in Latvia. While Olha has been able to obtain some income by working on some short-term creative scholarships offered by various institutions, to do so she has had to travel hundreds of miles to Latvia and then to Krakow. Such an itinerant lifestyle is not serving Olha and Sashko’s daughter well, as she’s experiencing difficulties adapting to every new and unfamiliar environment, each speaking a different and foreign language. Unfortunately, given her daughter’s poor physical and mental state, Olha is now unable to work at this time, as she needs to prioritize caring for her daughter.Meanwhile, Sashko remains in Kyiv and is trying to maintain his job as a typesetter. However, with much of the Ukrainian publishing and printing industry destroyed or gone fighting, he’s been told that it’s not clear if he will be paid.Olha and Yasya are remaining in Krakow through the end of July at which point they are hoping to return to Kyiv to reunite with Sashko. Of course, those plans could very well change if the war worsens in Kyiv.There are two ways in which we can help. The first is to assist them monetarily. Right now, they both continue to receive half of their Ukrainian salaries although they do not know how long that will continue. Since Sashko has some income to sustain his needs for the time being, we are focusing on the funds needed to sustain Olha and Yasya in Krakow. They need money for food, transportation, healthcare, psychotherapy, clothing and occasional childcare.The second way we can assist is to communicate with them via letter, email, etc. to provide emotional support. We cannot even begin to imagine what they are all going through. Yasya was not only uprooted from her way of life but, most importantly, cannot even be with her father. While going through her own emotional upheaval of missing Sashko and worrying about his safety, Olha has to remain strong for her daughter’s sake. We will post email addresses to contact the family soon.On behalf of Olha, Sashko and Yasya, thank you so very much for making a positive difference in their lives and helping them during this stressful time.
Thank you to those who have contributed to the Kupriyan Family Fund. From time to time, we will supply everyone with updates about Sashko, Olha and Yasya. Right now, there is no change in their situation. Olha is able to communicate with us via email. When Russ wished her a Happy Birthday, she responded “Thank you, dear Russ”. What was most poignant was the last line in Olha’s response to Sharon’s birthday wishes. She replied by saying, “Dear Sharon, thank you very much! It’s very important for us to see and as well feel your support. In my birthday, I wish the only one, but its for the whole country <3”
While we individually do not have the power to insure that Olha’s wish for her country comes to fruition, we can at least help out Olha, Sashko and Yasya. We have raised over $500 thus far and need to raise approximately $3500 more so that Olha and Yasya can meet their needs for the next two months. Donations can be made either through our website or via check. If you are sending a check, please put “Kupriyan Family Fund” in the memo portion of your check.
In addition, if you would like to contact Olha, you can do so by emailing her at email@example.com. We all pray for the day when there is peace in Ukraine, when Olha and Yasya can rejoin Sashko and live in freedom and when all others who are separated from their loved ones can do so as well.
In an email with Russ Blatt, Olha told him that Yasya’s cast came off her arm. It is not yet 100% healed, but much better than it was.
Here is an email received from Olha, sent to Sharon Dashow:
On behalf of Olha, Sashko and Yasya, thank you so very much to all who have contributed to their fund. We have now collected over $1,600 to assist them during this terrible time. We hope you will continue to assist them, as they are in need of more funds to meet their current expenses.Recently, Olha took part in the project “On Our Way Home / по дорозі додому / Po drodze do domu” by Jewish Museum Galicja. Olha sent us the article and accompanying pictures to share with everyone:“It’s not just the horrors of war. This is the time of the birth of empowering stories. The most important support for me is sisterhood, the strength of women who understand and help each other”.Olha, 34, is from Makovyshche, in the Kyiv region. She left Ukraine with her 7-year-old daughter.My least favorite way to wake up in the morning is getting an early call from family. I have been taking antidepressants for two years now due to anxiety. My dad called me and said, “The war has begun.” It was weird to hear this from him because he always assured me that nothing would happen. We live close to Irpin, Bucha and Gostomel and immediately heard explosions. I was still looking for the strength to joke, I told my husband, “Dear, will you have some coffee, or are you awake enough without it?” We hoped that everything would end soon. After the siren, we had to wake up our daughter, Yasya. We did not want to scare her, but she always asks direct questions, so she immediately understood everything from our serious tone. I quickly gathered up some basic things.Maybe I should thank my anxiety, because I always must have a plan. The day before, I got some cash, currency, bought energy bars.When the war started, a friend of mine and a writer Halya Tkachuk invited me to Lviv. The moment a person calls you to his or her place means a lot. Then I received a message from another friend that my daughter should not see the worst things of this war.We left on the third day because the air defense work was visible all around, and explosions were raging everywhere.After three weeks in Lviv, I applied for a scholarship in Poland, provided by the Pogranicze Foundation, in the village of Krasnogruda on the border of Poland and Lithuania. Then I felt great anxiety about the future. The plan was to have a literary residence in Latvia, in the house of writers and translators in Ventspils, and then we moved to Krakow. I would like to thank the Poles, all these places of great help, thanks to which we went through another difficult month of our lives abroad.Also, our sisterhood during literary residences helped in all this. We were like sisters, we cooked together, we cried together. It’s not just the horrors of war. This is the time of the birth of empowering stories. The most important support for me is sisterhood, the strength of women who understand and help each other.As always, should anyone want to contact Olha, you can do so by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Olha and Yasya continue to be separated from Sashko as Olha does not yet feel it is safe to return to Ukraine. As she stated in a recent email, one of the hardest decisions she had to make in the last three months was to stay in Poland. She made that decision based upon what she feels is best for Yasya. Nevertheless, she yearns to return to her home in Ukraine and be reunited with Sashko.
Due to your generosity, we were able to send Olha $1000. Olha has allowed us to share the email she sent to Sharon when she received the money. That email is as follows:
I’ve got the money from MoneyGram, there weren’t problem at all.
I want to thank you and all the people from your synagogue for help.
I will pay for the apartment from these money, I hope it will be enough for some months, and it would be very helpful for me and my daughter. I want you just to know that living in peace these months is something that I cannot explain in English. This feeling when you don’t afraid of fireworks and planes (oh, almost always I think), only sounds, but it’s not about your child. I appreciate this feeling very much and I want to thank all of you for this opportunity.
We have now raised approximately $1700 for Olha, Yaysa and Sashko. As we were finally able to work out the kinks in getting money over to Olha (the intermediary bank would not approve a wire transfer due to the unstableness in the area), we will be sending her the bulk of the remaining moneys soon.
As Olha has no choice at the moment but to stay in Poland, she desperately needs funds to assist her in paying her bills. As such, we are continuing to collect moneys for her and appreciate any contributions.
We have collected over $2500 to assist Olha, Sashko and Yasya. Some of that money has been released and the bulk will be sent to them this coming week. Please see Olha’s response upon learning that additional moneys were collected and will be sent to her.”Dear Sharon,It’s a pleasure to hear from you. And I am really glad that you are going on a family vacation, I miss such trips.Actually, I thought that the amount of money you’ve sent me was the final amount. So, it’s a surprise for me that you will send some extra money. I really appreciate it. Now I am totally thinking about the apartment deals — I need to find an apartment for us from October, and I need to find school for Yasya — I am very happy that I do not need to worry about money for the first time. I will not forget your help. And, of course, I will be glad to receive some letters from children from the synagogue (Yasya does not read in English, so I will help her).Tonight we are going to visit Lviv, the most Western city of Ukraine. I missed my husband, Sashko, and Yaroslava missed her dad. She said that she will hug him and won’t let him go. And it makes me almost cry because I have bought the tickets to Krakow today, and I am afraid to say goodbye again. It is hard to understand that you cannot go home safely, yet.In Lviv I will also see my father, I missed him too. Then I will go to my home in Kyiv to visit my orthodont, and Yasya will stay with her dad in Lviv. Such a strange feeling… I haven’t been there for a half of a year.How I am sitting in McDonald’s in Krakow while waiting for my daughter from the daily camp. I used to write a new book about three 14-years girls from Kyiv, who evacuated to Poland during the war. But I cannot even think about some artistic work now.Thank you for your help — again and many times.Sincerely yoursOlha”There is a saying from the Talmud that when you save one life, it is as if you have saved the whole world. Thank you to all who have contributed and who continue to contribute. As always, if you would like to write to Olha, you can do so by emailing her at email@example.com.
Please see below for the latest correspondence from Olha. As you will see from that correspondence, she appreciates both the financial support as well as the support we can give by communicating with her. Should you wish to contribute, you may do so though our website or by sending a check made payable to MHJC. If you send a check, please make sure to add Ukranian Family Fund on the memo portion of your check. Thank you for your ongoing support.
Thank you for your letter, it’s interesting to read about different traditions – and its very pleasant to know about the way you nurture traditions and family ties.
I miss my family so much, and I miss my language and traditions. It was needed to go to Ukraine to know that I cannot see me in different countries. That’s why it was very hard to come back to Poland.
Yaroslava is going to school here, but its also not easy with adaptation. I decided to be here only for six months, but it seems so long now.
Thank you for your support, not only financial. It’s really important for me to feel the connection along the distances.
I send you two photos – one with my family, from Lviv, and another from the first day of school in Kraków.
By the time you read the email below from Olha, she will have gotten another $1000 in aid, all because of the generosity of our MHJC family. We are continuing to collect money for Sashko, Olha and Yasya. Should you wish to contribute, you may do so though our website or by sending a check made payable to MHJC. If you send a check, please make sure to add Ukranian Family Fund on the memo portion of your check. Thank you for your ongoing support. As you can see from her email, corresponding with her also provides much needed emotional support. Should you wish to write to Olha, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much for helping Sashko, Olha and Yasya during this very difficult time in their lives.
I am really glad to hear about your family, and also about your traditions. Although not all of my family is with me, I am really pleased to read about happiness and peace. It’s the thing for which we struggle.
And I also want to wish you happiness with your closest people these days!
I think about your letter and all the time return to our life. We have fractured traditions because of the USSR, and Russia the same. During all of my childhood I felt the strict feeling of loss during celebrations. My parents, and their parents were taught to celebrate only “right” feasts. We needed to grow these traditions after the independence of Ukraine, in 1991. I was a child, though I remember everything. This kind of “construction” of memories and traditions.
Please, feel comfortable about stories of your family life. I read them as a writer, I take pleasure in them.
We stay in Kraków till the New Year. Did I say that we are living in the apartments of well-known Polish-American writer Czesław Miłosz? We are pleased to live in the centre of an old and beautiful city. But I understood here that every other city is interesting to visit as a tourist, but the thing which makes the city “home” is people. I am happy to have “my people” here in Poland. Otherwise, I would go to Kyiv, I guess. Though, my friends and my family in Kyiv live in quite different reality: they google what they should have in their suitcases in case of a nuclear attack. Anyway, we are trying to live our lives, to love and teach our children and to help our Army.
These are the things which keep me strong these days.
Dear Sharon, you wrote that you’ve sent me money. Thank you and all the kindest people of the Synagogue. Should I have some number to take the money, as it was the previous time?
I wanted to share with a friend of mine, who lost her husband recently. Her husband worked in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, he defended our country from 2014. She has two children. This is her story shortly (but in Ukrainian). I just wanted you to know that your money is spent in the right way.
The following email from Olha was sent on October 11th. Due to the holidays, we were not able to publish it earlier. As can be seen from Olha’s letter and, of course, the news reports, the Ukrainian people are in dire straits. As always, your continued support of Olha and her family is very much appreciated. Contributions to the Krupiyans can be made through our website or by check. When sending a check, please add Ukranian Family Fund on the memo portion. You can write to Olha via email at email@example.com.
We had a very hard morning today in Ukraine. Sorry for such sad news today. Two days ago we were extremely happy because of the Krimea Bridge, and today the terrorist state is doing its horrible job.
Over 80 rockets from Russia, over 41 shot down by the Ukrainian defence.
My husband Sashko called me in the morning, we call each other every day, and I heard the explosions by the telephone. He came to work and immediately went into the metro station in order to be in safe. My family is okay, but all my friends showed me the fotoes from their windows, the smoke and the fire all over the Kyiv city.
Its from my Facebook-friend: “The biggest shelling of Ukraine is happening right now.
Dozens missiles all over the country, targeting critical infrastructure and cities’ centers in rush hour, when people are going to work.
My Facebook is full of messages “we are alive”, mutual support and rage.
I don’t know how to work and how to breath today.
Kyiv, Lviv, Khmelnytskyi, Zhytomyr, Dnipro, Ternopil, Kropyvnytskyi, Poltava region, Vinnytsia region, Kryvyi Rih, Ivano-Frankivsk region, Odesa, Rivne region”
Wishing you happy and peasefull days,