TUSLA, Okla. — About two dozen family members waited anxiously, some with balloons and flowers, for their relatives, who were escaping the war in Ukraine, to arrive in Tulsa on Thursday morning.
Stanislav Volosyuk, his wife Oksana, his two children, Mikhail and Marta, and his brother Ivan met their family in Tulsa after a 9-month journey out of Mariupol, where their house was destroyed in the war.
Stanislav is visually impaired and because he needs Ivan’s help, they were allowed to leave Ukraine, but they had to drive a dangerous 2,000-mile road, first to Vinnytsia in Western Ukraine and then to Germany, to eventually get to Tulsa.
92-year-old Dina Volosyuk hasn’t seen her grandson Stanislav since he was a teenager and she hasn’t seen Ivan in person until today.
“I’m very excited they came and Glory to God they came, that they finally made it,” she said.
But, she said, her heart hurts knowing that there are still family members left behind in Ukraine, Russia and other countries who are not able to come to the United States to join the rest of the family.
Her eyes welled up seeing her great-grandchildren for the first time.
Stanislav has been trying to come to the United States since 2019.
“It’s a long-awaited reunion,” Stanislav said, “We have not seen each other for a long time. It’s a shock in one way, but at the same time, we are very thankful to God that we finally made it and it’s very exciting.”
Ivan is just 19-years-old and starting a new life.
“I’m very excited because it’s a lot of new experiences for me,” he said. “It’s my first time in the United States, my first time flying on an airplane and first time seeing a lot of relatives, including my grandmother.”
After the reunion at Tulsa International Airport, more than 50 relatives came from as far away as outside of the state to meet their long-lost family members for a Thanksgiving dinner with Ukrainian foods at First Slavic Baptist Church.
Stanislav’s children, however, were too busy playing with toys to eat.
Luba Byido is the aunt of Stanislav and Ivan.
“I feel so great, you know. I finally see my nephews, he’s like my favorite nephew I can say, and I am so glad, I am so, so glad,” she said.
Stanislav hopes to find better medical treatment for his eyes in America.
Ivan has other plans.
“I just want to get a good night’s sleep,” he said.
After driving through two countries, crossing an ocean and meeting with relatives he never knew, that seems like a good plan.
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