July 5, 2022 -

Small enough to know you. Large enough to serve you.

Kupriyan Family Fund – MHJC to Ukraine

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.

UPDATE – JUNE 2

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 kuprolya@gmail.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.

UPDATE – JUNE 7

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.

UPDATE – JUNE 13

Here is an email received from Olha, sent to Sharon Dashow:

“Dear Sharon,
Thank you for your letter and your interesting story about your family. I’m smiling while reading it, because I feel your love across the oceans.
I’ve just realized that in all this fuss I haven’t even googled the MHJC! So, I did it this morning and saw my surname on the main page. It’s so embarrassing to me, and I am very grateful for your help (all of the members of MHJC!). It’s unusual for me to take money, because before the war we were well, we had an apartment in Kyiv, and our jobs as well. Now everything is uncertain, but at least I will have this “airbag” (in Ukraine we sometimes say an airbag meaning some extra savings).
Michał told me you wanted to know more about me and my family.
So, you know I am a writer. I write books for children and teenagers in Ukraine. I cannot write now because of the war, and because now I’m a fool-time mother (where is the exhausted smile here?)))), but at least I can read now and write some essays about our living in Kraków. Oh, it costs a series of books for children, and once I will write it (or not, as they say in Kraków))).
My husband stays in Kyiv with his father. Yesterday we had a Father’s Day in Ukraine, and I realized that I have no words to say to him as a father – I cannot imagine the deepness of the miss which feels every Dad in Ukraine. But we hope to see each other in August.
My daughter Yaroslava is a “girl-fire”: I cannot rest with her even a minute. She is fun, and has a marvelous imagination in her 7. She cannot stand studying in a traditional way, but she adores stories. We read stories every day. She is brilliant in small-talks, but sometimes straight and ruthless with other people’s borders. She is always singing or jumping, she is pure happiness (but it’s also tiring). We have met here, in The Galicia Museum, a woman Jill, from USA. She said about Yasya, that her trip is: Kyiv – Krakow, Krakow – Hollywood. Hooey.
I will send you some new photos of me and Yasya. She likes potting very much.
Sincerely yours
Olha”
UPDATE – JUNE 20

This is the latest update concerning Sahko, Olha and Yasya. Olha and Yasya are still in Krakow, Poland but their apartment is provided only until July 31st. Olha is concerned about what will come after that as apartment prices have sharply risen and availability is at an all-time low in the larger Polish cities given the extraordinary number of refugees that need to be housed.

In response to a request for photos, Olha provided us with the attached photos. One picture from the last summer. It was a good trip to the Western Ukrainian town Drohobych, which is famous for its salt. The other two other photos are of Olha and Yasya – from Krakow, where they are now.

Olha appreciates our support, as she mentioned in her last email to Sharon Dashow in which she stated “Four days a week Yaroslava spends in a Jewish museum “Galicia”. This organisation settled a group for kids from Ukraine. I love this place very much, and I am really grateful for your kindness and support.” (sic)

To date, we have collected over $1,000, most of which we will be releasing to Olha this week. We hope people will continue to contribute so that we can make a difference in their lives. As we have mentioned in the past, they also need our emotional support and, as such, we encourage you to email Olha at kuprolya@gmail.com.

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