Houston couple in Ukraine providing shelter to refugees as Russia invades: 'They don't have much'

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Saturday, February 26, 2022
Houston couple in Ukraine hosts dozens of refugees as Russia invades
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As thousands of Ukrainians escape their homes in search of safety as Russia attacks, a couple from Houston, now in Ukraine, is offering shelter.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As thousands of Ukrainians escape their homes in search of safety as Russia attacks, a couple from Houston, now in Ukraine, is offering shelter to over two dozen refugees.

Rhonda and Mark Blessing moved to Ukraine in the early 90s as missionaries and later started their own church.

A few years after moving, they built a three-story home that fits about 26 people to help those in need. Because their house is in Lviv and closer to the Polish border, where there have not been any attacks, they are welcoming anyone into their homes. However, because so many people need shelter, they are having to start turning families down.

"Some of the families here left so quickly, they don't have much. They planned to come and get out for different reasons," Rhonda said.

The majority of refugees staying with them arrived with whatever they could fit into their suitcases, not knowing whether they will ever return home.

"At this point no one does. There is fear Russia is going to be ruling it. Most of them don't want to go back and live under Russia, so they'll just leave everything." Rhonda said.

One of the families staying with them has two children, 7 and 14 years old.

"I asked, 'How your kids are doing?'" recalled Rhonda. "She said the 7-year-old doesn't understand. The 14-year-old said, 'I just want to be at home and want to be in my room.' But, his friends are saying we have to run in bunkers. It's hard on the kids. It's an emotional roller coaster."

Although Lviv has not been attacked, neighbors are already taking precautions and called them to turn off their backyard lights.

"He said we may have drones flying over, identifying targets, and you don't want your yard lit up," Mark said.

The Blessings said it's difficult to even get money for food and extra mattresses right now because Ukrainians can only withdraw a limited amount of cash.

As for what's next, they say it's a waiting game and each day is filled with uncertainty. They are choosing to stay in Ukraine and not come back to America because it has become their home and they want to help their people.


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