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"Never thought our life would be this way": Ukrainian family lands in Boise

Ivan Oshurko and his family left the war in Ukraine for the United States. He is in the US under 'Humanitarian Parole' status.

BOISE, Idaho — Refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine are landing across the globe, and Idaho is starting to welcome its share of those in need.

Many of these refugees are not officially recognized under the legal status of a refugee; rather, these refugees are recognized in the United States under "humanitarian parole."

People in the United States under humanitarian parole do not qualify for federally funded refugee programs, according to the Idaho Office for Refugees (IOR). Program benefits can include up to 8 months of rent and career training.

Ivan Oshurko, alongside his wife and five children, left a small village outside Kharkiv, Ukraine two days after the Russian invasion. They arrived in Boise under humanitarian parole on March 24th.

KTVB communicated with Oshurko through volunteer interpreter Alisa Sergeyeva.

"We have a saying in Ukraine: 'When there is an alarm, turn your face to God,'" Oshurko said. "I lived all my life in Ukraine, I built my house there. I worked there all my life. My parents have 15 children. Right now, we are all over the place. It makes me sad we are not all together."

Oshurko has an old friend from Ukraine that already lived in Boise; this friend served as Oshurko's connection to come to America. And just like his path getting here, Oshurko must rely on the help of those around him to gain footing and start a new life in the US.

"At first we will need a place to live and a car to move around," Oshurko said. "We never thought our life would be this way, that it would make this kind of a turn."

Asking for help is a new experience for the Oshurkos. Normally, they lend the help.

In World War II, Oshurko's great grandfather protected two Jewish people ultimately saving their lives. One of those people is still alive today and nearly 100 years old, Oshurko said.

Israel recognizes the Oshurkos in their official Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem. The family received this recognition in 1989.

"This is something we are going to be passing from generation to generation," Oshurko said.

But to protect the next generation, they had to leave Ukraine. It was a very difficult decision, Oshurko said. And now, his family is on the receiving end and asking for help in return.

IOR works with nearby non-profits and resources to help the Oshurkos and others in a similar position. A non-profit called the Idaho Alliance for Ukrainian Refugees and Immigrants (IAURI) is working directly with the Oshurkos and three other families, according to IAURI Director of Outreach Tina Polishchuk.

Polishchuk expects more than 60 Ukrainian families to relocate to Idaho in the next 6 months. Anyone interested in helping these refugees is encouraged to offer donations or services including transportation.

Anyone seeking to assist the Oshurkos individually is encouraged to contact IAURI.

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