DENVER (KDVR) — More than a dozen children who lost parents in the war in Ukraine arrived in Colorado Wednesday.
Ukraine Aid Fund, a Denver-based non-profit, is sponsoring 14 children. They will spend 14 days in Colorado with host families, doing activities like tubing in Frisco, Meow Wolf and even a Nuggets game.
“One of the kids, Andrii, is going to live with our family and we’re going help him,” Oksana Koval said.
Koval is one of the host families for the group. Her family moved from Ukraine to Colorado about 20 years ago.
“It’s one thing watching the news and another thing when somebody comes from their side and you see their eyes and everything, these children, it is heartbreaking,” Koval said.
Andrii and the other children in the group have lost one or both parents in the war in Ukraine. For some of the children, their parents are missing.
Host families welcome children from Ukraine
“It just makes me really sad, but I can’t imagine me living here, everything’s OK, I have everything I need, and they’re just sitting in there like in bombs, sitting in the basement. It’s just really scary,” Zlata Butenko said.
Butenko is 10 years old. The children Ukraine Aid Fund is sponsoring are all between the ages of 9-16.
“They’re without their parents and they’re by themselves. If that was happening to me, I would be like really worried and just shocked, so they’re just really brave for that,” Butenko said.
She said she plans to become friends with the visitors because she wants to “just get them thinking not about the war, but for them just to be happy.”
A large group met the children at the airport and welcomed them with traditional Ukrainian bread, gifts and a rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem.
“They’ve seen kids smiling for the first time on the airplane, so it definitely warms my heart that we’re doing something that’s going to change the life of these kids for better in the future,” Filippova said.
How to contribute to the Ukraine Aid Fund
Ukraine Aid Fund is accepting donations to fund this and future projects.
Filippova said she hopes this once-in-a-lifetime trip provides a valuable lesson the children will carry with them when they return home to Ukraine.
“This experience is going to teach them a lesson of kindness does exist, good people do exist, and you just have to know that your life is going on no matter what happened in your life as a tragedy, before you’re going to meet people you will be in a situation where your life can change for the better,” Filippova said.