KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A family of five, fleeing the war in Ukraine, is now in East Tennessee.
The Ukrainian mother, father, and their three children arrived at McGhee Tyson on Tuesday morning. They will be living with a Tellico Plains couple as the war continues to play out in their hometown of Kyiv.
WATE 6 On Your Side’s Elizabeth Kuebel was at the airport as the family touched down and met their East Tennessee sponsors for the first time.
“We’re hosting a family,” the Longs said. “From Ukraine. A family of five, soon to be six.”
The pregnant mother, father and their children – a nine, two and one-year-old – are from the capital of Ukraine. They’ve recently been staying in Poland amid the ongoing war overseas.
“Think about what these families have been through. Driven out of their countries, lost everything, given up everything. Not their doing. They didn’t do anything wrong,” said Rick.
The family doesn’t speak much English, but they did tell us how they’re feeling to be in America and heading to a new home in East Tennessee.
“We’re happy we’re here, but the situation is not happy,” they said.
The Longs say they’ve never done anything like this before. Still, they felt compelled, and doing this feels just right.
“If it was our country, my husband and I, we have our children, and they have their families, and we would want somebody to possibly take care of them. Take them out of whatever war area they were in, and help them start a new life,” said Cynthia.
Cynthia also said she hopes this serves as inspiration and that it empowers people who are able to help out someone who needs it.
The Longs said they worked with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The agency has a “Uniting for Ukraine” program, allowing the family to stay with its sponsors for up to two years.