Ukrainian family settling into Tallahassee after escaping war-torn region

The Kharchenkos were originally supposed to make it to the Capital City months ago, but illness and paperwork got in the way.
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 9:27 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -The War in Ukraine is now approaching the nine-month mark.

Ukrainian forces continue to push back against the Russian invasion, but there are no signs of an end to the fighting. Just this week Russia launched a barrage of attacks, and world leaders scrambled to track the origins of a missile that hit Poland.

In the backdrop of that, there are more Ukrainians fleeing to safety. One local non-profit, His Kids Too!, is helping a second family settle in Tallahassee.

The Kharchenkos are a family of five.

They were originally supposed to make it to the Capital City months ago, but illness and paperwork got in the way.

The family calls it bittersweet to leave behind life as they know it and now, all they have is each other.

Songs, laughter and cheer filled the room of the Kharchenko household when WCTV caught up with them Thursday, but that’s not always been the case.

“The war began and it was like a shock for us,” refugee Denys Kharchenko said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine came on February 24, just one day before the Kharchenkos were to celebrate their daughter’s birthday.

“We didn’t know what to do. Do we need to cancel the birthday party? Do we continue? And we just agreed to make a birthday party for our girl,” Kharchenko said.

Denys Kharchenko described the atmosphere where they lived as dangerous as shelling and bombings ramped up.

The family made the decision to flee first to western Ukraine, then Romania and Slovakia before ending up in Germany.

“All night we were packing our stuff with all the necessary things like documents, blankets, tent and just to have the stuff to spend the night somewhere,” Kharchenko said.

A decision they’re glad they made, as the Donbas region remains under attack.

“It’s really devastation there, you know and a desperate place because there is no water, electricity is rare and as soon as they get it, they try to charge their phones to have a connection with relatives and they don’t have any heating opportunities right now because there’s no gas,” Kharchenko said.

After their long journey out of Ukraine, the Kharchenkos are now settling into a house, thanks to “His Kids Too!” and donations from the Tallahassee community.

“We’re so grateful for your help, your community is really amazing,” Kharchenko said.

“His Kids Too!” is looking and willing to bring other families here from Ukraine and if you’re interested in helping contact Teresa Fillmon at 850-524-5437.