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UPDATE: Ukrainian immigrant progresses on path to language, employment

Posted by | Catholic Charities Communications

Olena Leschynska, a refugee from Ukraine, spoke last April at Catholic Charities of Oregon’s annual gala.

“Catholic Charities has come alongside us during this terrifying journey,” said Olena, who sheltered with her teen daughter in a Kyiv basement when Russian bombs started pounding the city in February 2022. “Catholic Charities has calmed our fears. And helped us to process, reorient, connect and navigate this new reality. We have formed community, learned English and found work. Though we hurt, we feel hope.”

See a video about Olena’s escape and life in Oregon here

Now, she is an English student at Portland Community College and is looking for work in retail or in a pharmacy. She’s also learning to drive.

“This is good, very good,” Olena said of her feelings about her progress.

Last summer, her daughter came for a visit from college in Austria. That was joyous, Olena explained.

Olena has made friends among the local Ukrainian community but hopes to return after the war to be closer to family.

“I have everything in Ukraine,” she said.

Her parents live in territory occupied by Russian troops. They are well so far, but sometimes go without electricity or water for long periods.

Olena sums it up: “I love it here, but I do worry about my loved ones.”