Ukraine family describes harrowing escape from country to Queens

FAR ROCKAWAY, Queens (WABC) -- A family from Ukraine described their harrowing journey out of the country after arriving in New York City.

The Rodomon family had happy lives in their home in Yavorif in western Ukraine. They had family nearby and they raised their children in freedom and peace, until it all came crashing down around them.

"The bombs and air raid sirens came three, four, five times a night," Katarina Rodomon said. "We had to go to shelters with the children in their pajamas. A missile hit close to home and that's when we decided to leave.

Her husband took them to the border but stayed behind to fight in the war.

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She says she cried along with her children at the border.

The family was able to come to the U.S. because Rodomon's mother-in-law lives in Far Rockaway, Queens. But they had just one suitcase among them.

That's when Father Jim Cunningham at St. Francis de Sales Church stepped in to help.

He heard about the family and asked his congregation for assistance.
"I said I'll put it out, I'll put it out on social media but be prepared," Cunningham said.

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He knew, and so the donations came pouring in, including toys, money, and clothes. The donations filled the church rectory.

"This community is really a children of immigrants, mostly Irish and Italian immigrants, but all children of immigrants, and I think you can see that relation of how important it is that just as our ancestors were immigrants here so to are we called to assist those who are immigrants here today," Cunningham said.

Young Eugene and Elizabeth, who don't speak much English yet, will start school at St. Francis de Sales on Monday and wait until it's safe to go back home again.


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