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Updated: Sep 21, 2023

September 19, 2023

Waterloo Region, Ontario. Waterloo Region Grassroots Response to the Ukrainian Crisis (WRGR), a volunteer-led group focused on helping displaced Ukrainian people fleeing the devastating war in their country, are once again reaching out to the community for help. The need for Hosts to temporarily house Ukrainian people and families is urgent and Donations from people and businesses are crucial to help get them established in our Region.

Following is a heartfelt story about the journey of a displaced Ukrainian family, the Perelyhinas. The tale is told from the perspective of Mom, Anastasia and Dad, Dmytro about both their challenges and their 14 year-old Son, Vitalii. We are a humble family hailing from the eastern city of Kharkiv in Ukraine. Having left the ravages of the war behind, we found ourselves in Canada on July 6, 2023. Our first steps into this new land led us to a hotel in Mississauga. While we hoped for a haven, what we found was a stark contrast to our expectations. With minimal assistance and a sense of overwhelming isolation, every day became a battle for survival and comfort, particularly for our beloved child who has been living with a disability since birth. His specific needs – a calm environment, consistent meals – were nearly impossible to maintain in our initial surroundings. Noise from traffic, the odor of cannabinoids, and occasional disturbances made our days stressful. Our child, so sensitive to his surroundings, was deeply affected. The trauma of leaving our homeland coupled with these new challenges weighed heavily on us. Being in the medical field, I deeply understood the adverse impact this environment was having on our son. Just when it felt like we were reaching our breaking point, a ray of hope appeared in the form of the WRGrassroot organization. Thanks to their selfless efforts, we found a peaceful haven in Waterloo. The volunteers, with their boundless compassion and understanding, provided us with the essentials to rebuild our life. Our son now basks in the tranquility, enjoying the beauty of nature, and relishing his mother's home-cooked meals, reminiscent of the times before the war. Words can't express the gratitude we feel for the volunteers. Despite the complexities of our situation, they've been our pillars of strength, enabling us to dream of a brighter future in this magnificent country. Their support, even when faced with the challenges of understanding my son's unique needs and my aspirations in the medical field, has been unwavering. They've given us hope when we needed it most. The Perelyhina family currently stays in the St. Jacobs Guesthouse, a volunteer-supported project now led by Waterloo Region Grassroots Response to the Ukrainian Crisis (WRGR) since July, 2023. The small Guesthouse provides free accommodation for up to three months where they learn English and get support to obtain settlement paperwork, look for work and housing as well as help setting up a new home independently. The next steps for the Perelyhina family are to find work, find a permanent home and get their son healthy enough to go to school – they have a lot on their plate. WRGR gets requests on a weekly basis to help Ukrainians who have recently arrived in Canada and are about to become homeless. Jakobstettel Guesthouse is one of a few such houses to be operated by WRGR but sadly now, 28 temporary spaces for displaced Ukrainian people at local University residences are about to be lost. Currently, there are approximately 45 families looking for Hosts to provide temporary housing. This list grows longer each day. The need for more Hosts is urgent. You are needed. Please say "Yes, I can host a person or family" and/or "Yes, I will ask a family member or neighbour if they will share their home."

Currently, the Government offers Ukrainians only 14 days of accommodation after which time they must leave, even if they have nowhere to go. They are then often forced to make unsafe choices for housing, enter homeless shelters, go farther into debt or return home. Learn more about how impactful it can be to be a Host for a family or to make a Donation. We may also be contacted at or 519-242-8524.

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