Russia-Ukraine: Family in Montgomery County organizes Ukrainian student to help her family flee to safety

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) – A Montgomery County family is picking up a 16-year-old foreign exchange student from Ukraine who is helping her family as they try to flee to safety. With no home, job, income and limited belongings, the girl’s family just wants to reunite with her and escape the Russian invasion.

Anya Arseienko has attended Lake Creek High School in Montgomery ISD since the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

Anya’s original host family has moved but then she meets a girl named Samantha. Samantha comes straight to her parents.

“One day, Samantha got off the bus and asked if we would accept a foreign exchange student,” says Nicole Boniface. “I said, ‘Sure, ask your dad, we’ll do it.’ A little more paperwork later and here we are. “

Nicole and Brian Boniface have two daughters of their own. They quickly fell in love with Anya, who became part of their family. However, their role as host parents is of greater significance.

The teenager’s family is stranded in Ukraine as they try to leave their homeland under attack by Russia.

SEE RELATED STORY: Putin puts nuclear forces on high alert as Russian troops bombard Ukraine’s capital

“It hurts,” Anya said. “I can’t even sleep. I can’t do anything.”

Her family is from Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. Anya said she talked to friends and cousins, who were unable to leave and were sheltering in bunkers, without food and in the cold.

“My friends are scared, my family is scared, everyone is scared,” Anya said.

Her immediate family has fled to a village near Poland, but they are having difficulty reaching the border.

“It’s winter. It’s cold,” said Nicole. “She has a 9-year-old sister and a 98-year-old grandmother. She can’t afford to walk 15 hours. It’s a struggle right now.”

All Ukrainian men aged 16 to 60 had to stay in the country to fight, so Anya’s father was not allowed to leave.

RELATED SEE: Hundreds of Houstonians ‘stand with Ukraine’ when Russia invades Ukraine

“I can’t think he won’t come,” Anya said. “It’s impossible. My mind doesn’t realize he can’t come.”

Nicole and Brian are trying to get her family to America when they can cross the border. Nicole and Brian started crowdfunding and the community raised thousands of dollars.

The money will be used for travel, accommodation, food and anything else Anya’s family needs.

To donate, visit Give Send Go the page the family has set up.

Anya has joined her school’s student council and says her heart is warmed by all the students and staff who are supporting her. Everyone at Lake Creek High School will be wearing blue and yellow next week to show their support for Ukraine.

For updates on this story, follow Brooke Taylor on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. Copyright Registered. Russia-Ukraine: Family in Montgomery County organizes Ukrainian student to help her family flee to safety

Dais Johnston

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