A Ukrainian refugee is thousands of miles away from her home with two children and a backpack filled with clothes. Maryana Harmash recently arrived in San Jose and is now asking the community for help.
“I thank god and my friends my kids are here. It’s better than Ukraine, I cry a lot. It’s true,” she said.
An entire life left behind, all for the sake of keeping her children safe.
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Harmash told NBC Bay Area Sunday that she and her two boys, ages 9 and 2, left Ukraine just days before the Russian invasion. She said her her 2-year-old is an American citizen, so she was warned by the U.S. embassy.
“The Russians started war, all people who are American people need to go to the U.S.,” Harmash added.
Harmash said that she packed a backpack with clothing and called her friends in San Jose and took the next flight to San Francisco.
Harmash said that she is only in the U.S. as a tourist, which means she can’t work, she doesn’t have a permanent home and her 9-year=old needs to go to school.
“My older son is very afraid. He want his father afraid for our country,” she said.
Harmash’s husband is still in Kyiv, helping the elderly and disabled find a safe place. Harmash told NBC Bay Area that she is alone in the Bay Area with just a few friends.
“She didn’t really think that she would get stuck,” said Paulina Wojcik, a friend of Harmash.
Wojcik said that she and Harmash met at a neighborhood park. Harmash shared her story with Wojcik and told her she would soon need a new place to live, because the friend she is staying with is expecting family from Ukraine.
Being from Poland, Wojcik was immediately sympathetic and went to social media to ask for help and even created a GoFundMe page.
“I did get quite a few messages offering help, so I’m actually really surprised,” Wojcik said.
It’s the support that the Harmash family feeling some relief in the middle of a war.
For those who wish to help Ukrainian families in need, here's a list of organizations and their contact information.