SALEM, W.Va. (WBOY) – The lives of nearly every Ukrainian have changed since Russia unleashed a full-scale invasion on the country back in February. During the war, they’ve dealt with loved ones fighting and dying, having to flee their homes or their homes being destroyed, valued possessions left behind and more.
Liubov and Rita Hurtova are two Ukrainian refugees, who have personally felt the impact of the conflict. But a family in Salem, West Virginia, took them into their own home.
Camm and Diana Lounsbury found out about hosting Ukraine refugees through North America for Ukraine’s Facebook page, which led them to want to help out any way they could.
“Here about a month ago, we got contacted with these two, so we decided that these were the ones we’re going to help,” Diana Lounsbury said.
North America for Ukraine helps Ukrainian refugees find security and safety in the United States or Canada. The Hurtovas say that their home of Svitlovodsk is away from all of the warfare, but that they still worry about the family who are still in Ukraine, including Rita’s cousin that is on the frontlines and her father, Liubov’s husband. Her grandma and uncles are still in the war-stricken country as well.
“I don’t know how to say it,” Rita Hurtova said when asked to describe the current status in Ukraine. “Every day it’s something new.”
“I’m missing (my husband),” Liubov Hurtova said in Ukrainian. “But we’re here and we hope we will see him after war will end.”
The two are able to stay in contact with their friends and family members. While war looms across the sea, Liubov and Rita are doing their best to acclimate to the U.S. and West Virginia.
“It was easy for (me),” Liubov said in Ukrainian when asked how she’s adjusting to living in the U.S.
“It’s cool here, people here are very kind and very helpful,” Rita said. “Just everyone wants to help us.”
Liubov said her favorite thing since coming to West Virginia was kayaking this past weekend at Tygart Lake. Rita said hers was eating apple butter.
“We don’t have (apple butter) in Ukraine,” Rita said. “It’s amazing, seriously.”
In turn, the opportunity is leading to both families to learn more about each other’s culture.
Rita and Liubov can currently stay in the United States for at least two years. Rita will continue her education at a nearby high school.
Camm Lounsbury encourages others to help out if possible.
“If you find yourself in a position like we did to help, do it. It’s rewarding, it’s nice being able to help directly and it’s just the right thing to do,” he said. “If you got room for someone, take them in there’s a lot a lot of people in need.”