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Boise man travels to Hungary to bring Ukrainian family to safety

Volodymyr Temchenko also helped several other families out of the war zone.

BOISE, Idaho — A man from Boise made the journey to Ukraine to bring his parents and cousins back to safety.

 "They just couldn't leave their communities, their jobs, their children's education, so it was hard,” said Volodymyr Temchenko, who grew up in the city of Kyiv. He remembers Kyiv as a beautiful and peaceful place. Temchenko’s parents and cousins witnessed the first three days of the Russian invasion not long after they decided it was time to go.

"They were trying to postpone until the last moment but usually, a bomb or a rocket or something terrible like a death was the last drop to leave," Temchenko said.

Temchenko said he had his parents take a train to Hungary, Budapest where he could meet them and fly them to Atlanta, Georgia, to stay safe at his sister’s house. He also helped his cousins escape to safety in Lithuania, Poland and Italy. Temchenko said he was not allowed inside Ukraine.

"Men were turned away, so only women and children and elders over 60 would cross,” he said. “Leaving Kyiv is not easy, leaving it by train involved being in a crowd of thousands of people, leaving it by car meant a multi-hour drive -- no gasoline -- and logistically was difficult to leave."

Even while civilian buildings were being bombed, he said his family still felt a strong sense of community, making the decision to leave difficult.

“The community was so good, they were together making Molotov cocktails, they were digging trenches, so she felt support, but I think that support and safety was a little bit superficial,” Temchenko said.

During his time in Hungary, Temchenko said he helped several other families that were seeking safety. He added, his parents are given 18 months to stay in the U.S and they are eager to get back home. He said for his family, the vivid images and memories of the loud booms will be difficult to forget.  

"They were scared of every loud noise, if an airplane was flying they were emotionally disturbed so I think it will still be hard for them even though they only had three or four days of the war, it's hard for them to calm down."

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