GERMANTOWN, Tenn. — A Ukrainian woman in Germantown says she is helping refugees as they adapt to life during war, and has a message for Americans about the war.
Natasha Maliuga and her daughter had lunch at Soulfish on Wednesday, surrounded by supporters from Germantown Church of Christ, before returning to Poland to help refugees.
Natasha, from Ukraine, has been in the U.S. picking up her daughter, who is a freshman at Harding University.
When the war broke out in her home country, Natasha and members of her church fled from the capital of Kyiv.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen, we didn’t know if we would live the next day,” Natasha said. “We formed a group of refugees that I led to Poland with me, and that’s where they are now — but my husband and a few other men stayed.”
At one point, about 30 people were living in the basement of her husband’s church in Kyiv for safety, she said.
Her husband, a preacher, stayed behind with the church to help.
“I’m proud. I’m proud of my husband. I’m proud of him wanting to stand for his country and help our people,” she said.
Natasha doesn’t know when she will see him again.
“It’s not that I’m afraid. We just do our share. You just say, ‘Ok, what can I do for my country at this time to bring the victory closer?'”
Natasha said her church has been getting support from Germantown Church of Christ for years.
“In 2014 when the war began in Donetsk, we had to flee to Kyiv and this church has been with us, has been helping us,” she said. “All these years, Germantown has been with us and helping.”
Natasha is grateful for the help from the U.S. government and religious groups. All the help is making a difference.
“We felt like the hands were just wrapped around us. That God just wrapped his hands around us through the Christians here in the states,” she said.
But many back in Ukraine are still facing problems.
“In Ukraine it’s not that you just live with war, you don’t have jobs. Our economy is just going down so fast and without jobs, without money, people pretty much used all of their savings. So the food is available, the funds are not available,” she said.
When Natasha returns to Poland she will continue to help refugees from Ukraine.
“We continue to fight and it’s a very intense fight,” she said, “and unfortunately we don’t know how much longer it will last so we rely greatly on your prayers and on your help.”