Pregnant Ukrainian refugee and family in Georgetown ask for help getting back on feet
GEORGETOWN, Texas - As Ukraine reclaims a city that was taken by Russia, some people who fled the war in the beginning are still struggling to get back on their feet right here in Central Texas.
20-year-old Esmeranda, who didn't want to give her last name for safety reasons, is pregnant. She and her husband also have a 1-year-old daughter.
When the war began, Esmeranda was at her mother's house. Her husband came to tell her his family's house had been blown up, and they had to leave. That was the last day she saw her father.
"I don't know what happened to him. I don't know anything about him," Esmeranda said.
She and her family fled to the woods and stayed there for a few days.
She says people were talking about the U.S., but she didn't have enough money to bring her mother and siblings.
"[My mother] said, 'take your children and your husband and leave. You're pregnant,'" she said through tears.
A long journey began, and they eventually got to Arizona.
"I was on the bus for four days with my husband and with the baby," Esmeranda said.
When they got there, they bought a van, which they've been living out of. Unfortunately, it's broken down more than once.
The family heard there were jobs in Texas, so they made their way here.
Esmeranda says she's grateful for the people who've helped along the way, like one Georgetown family who paid to get their car fixed and is working to connect them with resources.
"She definitely has a big heart, she helped us, she helped my family a lot," she said.
Esmeranda's family has gotten some donations for a motel room. However, the journey was difficult.
"We had to wait...to get a shower in the gas stations, to wash clothes," she said.
She says she just wants to have a normal life.
"We just want to settle, we want to have a house, a life, we want to have jobs we can work, we can have someday to be okay," she said.
Her mother is still in Ukraine, and she wants to bring her to the U.S. to be with her.
"There were terrorists, they wanted to steal children away from her. [My mother fought] them, they punched her really hard in the stomach, she was grabbing one of my siblings, they were pulling them away from her, from the men that were trying to get them," she said. "I'm here alone. I don't have no one. If she's here with me, that would be awesome."
Ultimately, she just hopes things will get better.
"I need to go and ask for help, go to churches and to food banks, every day, I'm struggling a lot," she said. "But I hope one day I'll do better, I will get a home. My husband doesn't speak English. It's hard for us. If I wasn't pregnant, I would get a job quick. I want all this to be a dream."
A GoFundMe has been started to help the family.
Esmeranda is hoping for any help with basic necessities and refugee services.