Ukrainian Mother Grateful to Be in Wilmington, Fearful for Husband Back Home

After Russia invaded Ukraine, Tetiana Bondar and her two children were on the move for 23 days; staying with her sister-in-law in Wilmington, Massachusetts, she is relieved to be in the U.S., but she is concerned about what's next for her family

NBC Universal, Inc.

A month after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, U.S. President Joe Biden announced Thursday the nation would open its doors to up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.

A Ukrainian family staying in Wilmington escaped the war and is finding refuge in Massachusetts. However, despite the president's announcement, their legal status in the country remains uncertain.



Watch NBC10 Boston news for free, 24/7, wherever you are.


Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.

"It's been a month, but I'm crying every day," said Tetiana Bondar in Ukrainian. "Because it's very, very hard," she added in English.

The 36-year-old arrived in the U.S. last Friday with her 1-year-old baby in her arms and her 12-year-old son by her side. The three of them were greeted at Boston Logan International Airport by Bondar's sister-in-law, Elena Cannata.

"I called to them and said, like 'You, you better get out,'" said Cannata, recalling a conversation she had with Bondar last month.

The Bondars fled Ukraine's capital of Kyiv the day the invasion started amid Russian bombings and were on the move for 23 days.

The hardest thing for Bondar was to leave her husband behind.

"She cannot sleep as well because where my brother is," said Cannata. "As you know, there's no safe place in Ukraine right now."

Bondar and her husband talk on the phone every day, checking to make sure he's still alive.

Men between the ages of 18 and 60 aren't allowed to leave Ukraine under martial law, which was declared after the invasion, in case they need them to pick up arms. All the while, an estimated 3 million women and children have left Ukraine so far.

To help Europe with the refugee crisis, Biden said the U.S. will open the door to those fleeing the war, with no date as to exactly when.

NBC10 Boston reached out to the U.S. State Department and the Department of Homeland Security for a clear answer, but did not get a response by time of publication.

Bondar and her children made it to the U.S. on a 6-month tourist visa and arrived past the cutoff date of March 1 to qualify for the immigrant Temporary Protective Status, or TPS. This means she can't access certain services while in the country.

"[She needs] to be able to live as a normal human being, be able to work, be able to send the kids to school, and be able to get them basic insurance, not to be afraid to go to the doctor's," said Cannata.

"If, in six months, the war is not over, or it's not safe to go, for me and my visa, I need to leave, but leave where?" Bondar said with the help of Cannata's translation to English. "I don't know, I don't know. I just don't know."

Since the arrival of her sister-in-law and two nephews, 36-year-old Cannata said the Massachusetts community has showered the family with donations, for which Bondar said she is very grateful. She just hopes the war can be over soon so she can return home.

Contact Us