Chasing the American Dream: Refugees Find New Home Thanks to Long Island Nuns

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY

by Katie Vasquez

A new day in a new country. A world away from the war in Ukraine. 

“My husband works hard and I do everything about the house with all my kids,” said Ksemiya Kaseeva, a Ukrainian refugee.

When the first shots were fired, Oleskandr Somin took his wife, Kaseeva, their two kids, and his mother out of their homeland. 

“I lost everything so we had to start from the very beginning,” Somin said.

It was a long journey, traveling thousands of miles through Europe and eventually crossing the Atlantic Ocean, but it didn’t stop there. 

“We crossed the border through Mexico to the United States,” Somin said.

Finally, the family ended up here with the Sisters of St. Joseph in Long Island, in a rent-free apartment. 

“This program allows them to stay for a minimum of a year,” said Sister Annelle Fitzpatrick, director of refugee resettlement. “Many programs for refugee resettlement, the time limit is three months. You can’t even get an established mailing address.”

The sisters aim to help new arrivals begin a new life.

“I have time to learn English and to find a good job because I don’t have to pay rent right now,” Somin said. “So I can look around and adjust a little bit.”

But lending a hand is no small feat for the sisters. They don’t receive government aid. 

Housing families like the Somins costs about $8,000 a month.

“These people show what kindness is and show us how people have to help people,” Somin said. “So when I leave this place, I want to help other people like the sisters helped us.”

The Sisters of St. Joseph are constantly getting requests to host even more families.

They are opening their arms to as many as they can, but they say the demand is overwhelming.  

Meanwhile, this family is getting ready to settle on their own, finding a car and apartment in the new year, which will open up space for a new family.