In Ukraine, there is a saying that when you save a child, you save the future. Tearfully, Victor Borodii thanked the Felician Sisters for saving three children, giving them a safe place to live during a time of war in their homeland. The Felician Sisters are taking part in Uniting for Ukraine, a Biden administration program that allows “humanitarian parole” for Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion.
A building contractor in Ukraine, Borodii stayed behind when his family migrated to Enfield, CT in mid December. He was working on a much-needed hospital wing for soldiers in Ukraine. Now joyfully reunited with his family, Victor Borodii and his wife, Iryna, are striving for independence in their temporary home. Together with their children, Mariia, 16, Daniil, 14, and Antonina, 11, they are living in the former chaplaincy behind Our Lady of the Angels Convent.
“They are real go-getters,” says Sr. Maryann Agnes Mueller, who helped to arrange sponsorship for the family. After just a couple of weeks in the U.S., Victor Borodii has already been putting his building and contracting skills to use, volunteering on some painting projects at Enfield Montessori School. Iryna, meanwhile, thanks to Connecticut’s efficient and helpful social services and the Uniting for Ukraine program, already has her official social security card for employment. She is enrolled in twice-weekly ESL classes, and now that she has permission to work, she is eagerly seeking employment.
Because of the pandemic, and then the war, Victor and Iryna’s two younger children had been attending school virtually since 2019, without many chances to interact with other children. Daniil and Antonina are now happily enrolled in Enfield Montessori School, where they are finding a supportive community, while their older sister is attending 11th grade at Enfield High School.
With occasional help from Google translate, the parents know enough English to get along, and they are learning rapidly. “Why is it an apple and a bagel?” Victor asked on a recent outing to town.
The whole family is “smiling away” now that they are together. The restful sleep on the convent property must contribute to their well being. “It’s so good to sleep all night,” Victor tells the sisters. Having been accustomed to air raids that regularly sent them scrambling to the basement in the middle of the night, the family luxuriates in the simple joy of being together and getting some much-needed rest.
“It’s so good to sleep all night.”Victor Borodii
The Felician Sisters began the sponsorship process through a program called Welcome Connect, part of the Welcome Corps consortium of organizations with expertise in refugee resettlement, protection, and welcome for the U.S. Department of State. Uniting for Ukraine facilitated the temporary immigration process for the family. For more information about how to sponsor a family, go visit welcome.us/connect.