Ukrainian Refugees Arrive in the Bay Area to Share Stories of Heartbreaking Escape and the Heartache of Leaving It All Behind


CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) — We are seeing the first refugees from war-torn Ukraine arrive in the Bay Area. For many, the journey to California is bittersweet after leaving friends, family and their lives behind.

In an emotional reunion at SFO, Polina Prokopiak and her one-year-old son Artern arrive exhausted after a long journey to flee their beloved country.

“It’s very scary in Ukraine with a lot of shelling, I was worried about my son. That’s why we came to the United States,” Prokopiak said through an interpreter.

His cousin Evgeniy Vinnicov lives in the Castro Valley. He says it took Polina five days to flee Ukraine.

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Polina documented the tragic scene at the Maldova border, with long lines of refugees stretching over ten miles.

A few minutes earlier, another meeting was taking place.

Bohdana Korchak from San Jose was greeting her mother Vira, who arrived in San Francisco from Ukraine with only a small suitcase and is now a refugee.

“No home, no town, no dog, nothing,” Vira Havryliuk said.

Korchak said his mother had been hiding for days in her own basement, which had been turned into a bomb shelter.

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The station from which she left in Ukraine was bombed a few minutes after her departure.

Message from Vira to Russian President Putin: “Putin is a maniac”.

“It was difficult to convince my mother to leave, she was scared,” said her daughter Bohdana Korchak.

RELATED: As Over 1 Million Flee, Thousands in Bay Area Seek to Fight in Ukraine

Nearly one million refugees have already fled Ukraine, about the population of San José.

These Ukrainian parents hope to apply for refugee status allowing them to stay in the United States

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