Ukrainians fleeing war pick up the pieces in New York

The war has also discouraged Iryna Plaskon, 33, but she counts her family among the luckiest. They crossed the Polish border before the Ukrainian government issued an order prohibiting men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country to defend it.

This allowed Andriy, 32, to stay with his wife and children. Equally important, she said, Andriy has an IT job with an American company and continues to earn a living after moving to the United States.

They found an Airbnb in Sunset Park after determining it was near a good school for Marta, their 5-year-old daughter. But the $4,000 monthly rent shocked them, given that, according to his estimate, a nice apartment in their hometown would cost between $150 and $200 a month.

Through Zolotarevsky, they met Victoria Barsky, an educator who teaches Russian literature at Brooklyn College and also works for the city’s education department. Barsky has encouraged them to visit one of the family drop-in centers in town, and they hope to enroll Marta in school soon.

When Iryna Plaskon became emotional over the uncertainty of her family’s situation, Marta, dressed in a Minnie Mouse dress and wearing a tiara, placed her palms on her mother’s cheeks and urged her to stop to cry.

“Mom, don’t be sad,” she said, using her few words of English.

Iryna Plaskon said that when the family fled their home in Lviv, she and her husband decided not to tell Marta about the war, thinking it was too difficult for a young child to understand.

“She was shocked, ‘Why are we rushing so much? Why are we going?'” she called. “And we said, ‘Oh, it’s a game. We’ve got a plane somewhere, and whoever is fastest will win. And she was, ‘Oh, let’s go, let’s go fast, we want to be the first.’ So it’s like a fun game for her.

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