TULSA, Okla. — Two families in Green Country are bound together by war but also by kindness.
Viktoriya Goldrich now lives in Jenks, but she is originally from Ukraine. Goldrich said his family got caught in the middle of the war as Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
“I kept wondering how this happened in 2022 and how was the world allowing this to happen,” Goldrich said.
His family sought refuge in Warsaw, Poland, while a stranger from Green Country spent time helping a group called Global Volunteers in the same country.
READ MORE >>> Tulsa woman volunteers in Poland to help fleeing Ukrainians
“I look at my phone and saw a message from a woman I’ve never met before and it was a picture of Pam [Ballard] standing next to my cousin Elaina in Poland,” Goldrich said.
After volunteer Pam Ballard returned to the United States, over lunch, Goldrich asked her for a favor on her next trip abroad – to bring two priceless items back to Oklahoma.
“My family heirlooms that belonged to my dad when you come back,” Goldrich said. “They are with my cousin. I never thought I would see them again.”
Goldrich’s father died of cancer two years ago. She was unable to attend her funeral as COVID-19 had closed the borders.
After her family fled Ukraine, she said their home was broken into. All that remains is her father’s cross necklace and ring that her cousins took with them as they fled.
The heirlooms traveled on foot from Ukraine to Warsaw with the family, then from Warsaw to Chicago with Ballard by plane, and from Chicago to Oklahoma by car.
“When I slept one night at the hotel, I took it off my neck but it was right next to me on my pillow and that was the only time,” Ballard said. “Otherwise when I was driving in my car it was around my neck.”
The necklace and ring are now in Goldrich’s possession, signifying closure.
“When I saw them, I knew it had happened, that the cancer had taken it away from me and it had hit me so hard,” Goldrich said.
“But I was also very grateful. Because the moment I put those things around my neck, I felt his presence. I felt his energy. I knew it was on him every days.”
Ballard said Goldrich’s family is safe, although not exactly living in luxury as the conflict continues in Ukraine.
“There’s no answer to all the ‘Why?’ about death and wickedness, but we’re all testimonies of hard things that’s happened to us, and we’re still here,” Ballard said. “We’re alive and we don’t always need to have the answers to that. “
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