45,000 Russian troops were now on the Ukrainian border with troops and tanks already crossing the border and ready to invade.
Our international daughter Nataliya studied here in St Clair for one year (2[phone redacted]). Everyone whoever met her loved her optimism and her enthusiasm for life.
Nataliya’s dad lost his job several years ago with her mom being the sole provider for a family of 4 and also their ailing grandmother and grandfather. Moms income was about $300 per month. They all reside in a tiny one bedroom apartment.
Because of the crisis in Ukraine the economy has effected everyone's livelihood and well being. This summer mom also lost her job as a teacher and now make $29 per week as a tutor.
Last month at 10pm a knock came to their door. Dad peeks through the peephole. Standing at the door was a military police officer. They pretended not to be home. They were looking for Nataliya’s brother to put him in the Ukrainian army.
This family loves their country and is very patriotic. Her brother is the only financial provider from income of working in a coffee shop and is the caregiver to their dying grandpa who needs assistance with being turned, bathroom and baths.
With so little money to live on, their main staple is potatoes. Nataliya became sick from malnutrition and was anemic and needed medical assistance. The news of all the Ukrainian unrest and plane that was shot down terrified her.
In August, her mom was desperate for her daughter and called us to see if we could keep her safe here in America with us. Greg and I contacted the Embassy & international lawyers to see how we could legally bring her here.
The only way was to get an F1Visa (student Visa). We had to find a university or college that would accept her immediately, because of her situation. We had many contacts with UofM-Flint because it was Alex's (my sons) college. They accepted her that day if we could prove we could financially sponsor her. In order to do this, we had to show $30,000 sitting in one savings account, (ah yeah right?) We looked into local community colleges also, but because of time constraints and mandatory English testing (TOEFEL) it was not possible.
We gathered our money from our accounts and took out loans to meet the government criteria. After raising 6 of our own kids and weddings, college, 18 grandkids etc. this kind of money is just not there for us, but we are so desperate to save Nataliya. How can we put a price on saving her? We truly LOVE her as our daughter.
We paid for her to go by train to the capital of (Kiev) which was 8 hours away on Friday to be interviewed at the American Embassy for a Visa. As Nataliya waited in line, 70% were denied to include the three girls in front of her. She didn’t think there was any hope for her as she stood in front of the window.
Praise God they granted her a visa and she walked away in tears.
We booked a flight that day for a flight out of country. A VERY expensive trip since it was a last minute booking ($1500) but we didn't want to take any chances that Ukraine was going to be invaded that week. (and it was)
It took over 6 hours that day to find a flight. It was going to be many connecting flights and a total of 22 hours just in layovers.
I called the USO in Germany and a German friend who works at the airport to see if they could assist her in a cot to rest and a sandwich since she had no money. They advised me that the flights she was about to take from Kiev to Poland to Germany was not allowed since she had no European visa’s and she would be arrested, jailed, deported and never to be allowed back into America!! She as within hours of taking that same flight.
We cancelled her NON REFUNDABLE FLIGHT, losing the money.
After another 2 days on the phone and a LOT MORE MONEY we found a flight for her to come tomorrow (Thursday Aug 14th)
Upon her arrival we need a mandatory $1400 for health insurance per year per government regulations.We need to pay for books and tuition per year and housing.
She was accepted at University of Michigan-Flint, room and board totals $30,000 per school year.
Tuition is due up front for International students are not permitted to make monthly payments.
Can anybody out there please help us, we cant do this alone to support her. Will you please forward this story to your clubs, churches, email friends, twitter and any affiliations you may have. Checks can also be mailed directly to us which will be tax deductible if made out to;
Greg Benda (KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS "SAVE NATALY FUND")
Nataliya is 18 years old and so precious. She is absolutely worth saving. You wont be disappointed for making this sacrifice.
She will major in Foreign Affairs Political Science.
She wants to be the Link between our 2 countries .
God Bless you for your prayers and consideration.
Please feel free to contact us for address and phone numbers where checks can be mailed
EMAIL: [email redacted]
LTC. Greg and Linda……..and Nataliya
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