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Leaving a Beloved Country Behind

Larisa Puzanov and Ilienko families

“We didn't want to wait for the missile that might target us...”

Sergei and Larisa’s family fled Ukraine due to the repeated shelling. They couldn't endure the noise and the constant sense of dread, so they escaped to a refugee camp established by The Fellowship. And recently they arrived on a Fellowship Freedom Flight to Israel.

"Life became a nightmare from which we couldn't awake and there was no quiet in sight. There was no electricity and everyone's patience slowly began to run out. We didn't want to wait for the missile that might target us," Larisa explains of life in their hometown.

Larisa’s children and grandchildren had been begging to leave Ukraine, and the possibility of immigrating to Israel was a light at the end of the tunnel when violence and chaos broke out in Ukraine in 2014. They left everything behind – their apartments, their cars, and all their possessions. They took only clothes and documents. "How does one leave behind a whole life like this? We're torn and broken-hearted. I loved Ukraine. I liked my work and I was happy until the beginning of the war," she says before beginning to sob.

"You at The Fellowship are helping Jews survive. You feed us in Jewish refugee camps and you bring us to Israel. But all of our colleagues and friends are there like sitting ducks. They have nowhere to flee. All they can do is run out of the house to the basement and hope they'll survive the day. I can't tell you in words what's happening there.

"In Ukraine, there's minimal humanitarian relief so that people don’t starve to death. The situation is that serious. The cost of potatoes has doubled. Life has really become impossible. Think about what it's like to pay double the amount of what you were used to paying for a basket of food. Your salary is actually half of what it once was. Most of the families in eastern Ukraine are poor in every sense of the word.

"Now that we have made aliyah to Israel I have a certain inner calm. I don't jump at every noise. I understand that the missiles and shelling are already behind me. We now have peace and quiet."

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“We didn't want to wait for the missile that might target us...”