Ukrainian refugee, now in Belmont, grateful to be alive



Bestinau got that-

BELMONT, Calif. (KRON) — After her long journey to escape the violence, a Ukrainian refugee who fled her country during the Russian invasion is now in the Bay Area.

It took almost two and a half weeks for Dorina Olefir to flee her hometown of Odessa, Ukraine.

Packed with only a few items, her cats Bruno and Walter cross five borders, via Moldova to Romania, where she eventually took a flight to the United States.

“It was a very difficult journey,” Olefir said through a translator.

A close family friend and compatriot Michael Milshtein, who lives in Walnut Creek with his wife and daughter, helps translate Dorina’s story.

Olefir happened to have a valid visa that allowed her to enter the United States.

After visiting her parents along the peninsula in Belmont in the winter and shortly after the Russians invaded Ukraine on her 30th birthday, Olefir set out.

“Meanwhile, rockets were launched and bombed. Her friends joked that they ordered fireworks for her birthday,” she said.

She felt protected by Ukrainian troops, but she never felt comfortable knowing that seemingly peaceful moments could quickly turn violent.

“We had to get to the border before the curfew goes into effect. Once it’s in effect, you can’t be on the streets anymore — period,” Olefir said.

Often she was alone with her cats, and sometimes she was with friends and other family.

A woman in Romania has housed her for a few days and helped put her in touch with a vet who has given Bruno and Ealter the necessary vaccinations so they can travel

Finally, Olefir arrived in the Bay Area in mid-March.

“(I) am convinced that we will win, despite Ukraine’s relatively small size compared to Russia. The victory will be ours just because of how people behave – how people take the opportunity,” said Olefir.

Just like she did by finding a way out.

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