Anastasia, 31, planned to spend her whole life in Donetsk, Ukraine, a place she knew was home. “It was what we knew and things were going very well,” she says. “Then the war came.”
The ongoing conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian armed forces caused unrest and violence in her neighborhood. She could hear shelling in the distance as she took her 10-month-old son, Mykyta, and 2-year-old daughter, Sofia, to school and nursery. She and her husband, Leonid, 37, worried about the future of their country.
“At first we thought [the war] would end quickly. But it’s already been almost three years, and it doesn’t look as if there’s any end in sight,” says Anastasia.
When the war began, the Ukrainian economy started to decline, and prices for food and basic goods started to rise. “We finally came to the conclusion that we needed to change things for ourselves,” says Anastasia. “We want our family to live and to start a different way of life.”
The family will take a Fellowship Freedom Flight to begin a new life in Israel. Both Anastasia and her husband believe living in Israel is the best choice for their family. “We want Israel to be our home. Our long-term plans are to be a strong, happy family. . . Eventually we’d like to start our own business,” says Anastasia.
Anastasia was a hairdresser and Leonid worked in security in Ukraine. They believe Israel will provide them many job opportunities, though, and don’t feel they must continue the same work in Israel. They might shift career paths after considering all of their options.
The family will start their new life on a kibbutz (a communal settlement in Israel, typically a farm) in the north. “We want to spend time learning Hebrew,” says Anastasia. “Once we feel confident with the language, we’ll relocate. . . We feel that living on a kibbutz will be like becoming part of a larger family who will support us during our initial time in the country.”
The family is grateful to The Fellowship for all of the logistical help and information during their aliyah (immigration to Israel) process. “Most of all,” says Anastasia, “we're thankful to The Fellowship for serving as the bridge between our present and our future. This is something we can't emphasize enough – we'll never forget your help.”