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Sudbury family helping Ukraine refugees settle in to new home

Roch and Julie Vaillancourt said it has been a community effort to bring Svitlana and Uzair here 
Roch and Julie Vaillancourt have opened their home to Ukrainian refugees Svitlana and Uzair, and their two-year-old son, Ali.
A couple from Kuznetsovsk, Ukraine is now calling Greater Sudbury home after fleeing the country and escaping the Russian invasion.Svitlana Uzair is Ukrainian, and her husband, Uzair Mahmood, is from Pakistan. It is customary in Pakistan for wives to take their husband’s first name as their married name, they said. They have a two-year-old son, Ali, and all three of them have moved half way across the world, to Sudbury, where they are trying to rebuild their lives.Luckily, Svitlana and Uzair found Roch and Julie Vaillancourt, who have opened their home to the Ukraine refugees. The Vaillancourts are helping Svitlana and Uzair become familiar with the city and to settle into their new lives.“Things are going amazingly well,” said Vaillancourt, several days after Svitlana and Uzair moved into their basement, which has been revamped into a small apartment to give the family privacy.Weeks ago, Vaillancourt was watching the news and saw a story about another family that welcomed Ukrainian refugees into their home. He talked to his wife, Julie, who fully supported the idea, and they started the process.Julie registered on several websites that help match people fleeing Ukraine with host families in other countries. Once they registered, they had a number of responses, but settled on Uzair and Svitlana.Vaillancourt said it has been a real community effort to bring them here. Anmar Mechanical purchased airplane tickets for the couple, while another local business, Quatro Industries, has offered Uzair a full-time job. He started May 26.“When I picked him up (from work), he had so much to tell me,” said Vaillancourt. “He really enjoyed his first day. People are treating him really well.”The YMCA is also paying his salary for the first month, said Vaillancourt.“Uzair passed his driving test and has his full G2 licence,” he said. “He will drive one of our vehicles until we can find a good deal on a used vehicle.”Julie has been busy helping Svitlana fill out paperwork for daycare and looking for subsidies, Vaillancourt said. Svitlana would like to find a job once her son is in daycare.

Ali, said his parents, has really enjoyed the fact he isn’t being subjected to daily air raid horns.

The distractions here in Sudbury are helping them in a time when they would most rather be in their own country, in their own homes, where Svitlana’s parents are brother are still living. Her father and brother are not allowed to leave, as they may be required to help defend their home. Her mother works in the nuclear power plant there, and her job is vital. She fears she would lose her job should she leave.

Latest estimates put the death toll at 46,000 in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, with at least 15 million people displaced.

Vaillancourt said his family will help Svitlana and Uzair for as long as possible.

“They will spend the summer here, and we will see how it goes after that.”