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Church welcomes Ukrainian refugees with open arms

By Erin Jones

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    PLANO, Texas (KTVT) — A North Texas church that’s been sending money and supplies to Ukrainians overseas is now welcoming refugees and helping them with whatever needs they might have.

Anatoliy Matviychuk said he’s so thankful for the River of Life Dallas Church and his loved ones for making the transition easier.

“The church in Plano and Pastor Leo have helped us tremendously, specifically from a psychological standpoint,” he said. “I feel good. I feel good, but I’m still very much concerned about what’s happening in Ukraine considering that the war is still going on over there.”

The 63-year-old describes the moment he knew he had to flee Kyiv, where he had built his life as a successful musician, professor and journalist.

“As soon as the bombs hit the ground in Ukraine, they actually hit the suburbs of Kyiv where I was at the moment,” he said. “We immediately went to Kyiv and at that moment we started making plans how to escape.”

The trip was long and Matviychuk kept thinking about his loved ones that had to stay. He traveled to Lviv by train, then took a bus to the small city of Chop, then took another train from Chop to Prague before flying to the U.S.

Now, he’s made it to Flower Mound where now new challenges have emerged.

“I’m quite happy here in the circle of family and close friends but I struggle to find a way to implement my skills,” he said.

He’s been receiving help from the River of Life Dallas Church, which has an Eastern European congregation.

“Now my biggest challenge is to get my English language up to skill,” he said.

Matviychuk said he was able to make it to the U.S. thanks to a tourist visa, but so many others haven’t been able to secure one.

However, he’s hopeful. Last week, President Biden announced the U.S. is welcoming 100,000 refugees.

“I welcome President Biden’s decisions to allow some Ukrainian people to come over and wait out the terrible time in Ukraine and I’m confident they will bring lots of value to society,” he said.

While he waits, Matviychuk is using his musical talents here in North Texas to keep spirits high by performing for other Ukrainians.

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