Oleh Leushko and his family have called Steinbach ‘home’ for only a month, and they have experienced a lot of support getting settled in the community. 

Now, Leushko is eager to pay it forward by helping other Ukrainian refugee families come to Steinbach. 

Speaking through translators, Leushko is determined to find a way to support two families who expect to arrive in Steinbach this month. 

One family from East Ukraine is scheduled to arrive this week with their 10 children. 

Another family, Sergey and Tatiana Schastlivyy with their six children, would like to come to Steinbach as soon as one child has recovered from brain surgery. Leushko says this family has suffered great tragedy and he would like nothing more than to ease their hardship by helping them pay for travel expenses from Italy to Steinbach. 

When the part of Kyiv region was invaded by the Russians, this family fled in their minivan which was under gunfire, says Leushko. Two of their children were struck by bullets in the head, he adds. One daughter died in front of the rest of the family and the other daughter requires several brain surgeries which are being performed in Italy. 

Leushko and his wife, Alena, have eight children of their own with another baby due in January. He feels compelled to help the Schastlivyy family by covering their travel costs to Steinbach, a community that he is confident will care for this family and help them heal from this heartbreaking experience. 

Leushko has teamed up with Pastor Nikolai Usach with the Slavic Ukrainian Church in Steinbach. He moved his family from Ukraine to the Steinbach area 10 years ago. 

Usach says the Schastlivyy family got their Visas approved to come to Canada and they expect to be medically cleared for travel within three weeks after the surgery. 

They are hoping to collect enough money to pay for the airfare for this family of eight. 

Usach calls it a ruthless war and says nobody was ready for it, nobody knew what to expect or how to behave. 

Leushko and his family have found incredible support in Steinbach, and he wants to take time this Thanksgiving weekend to make sure the business owners, residents, and support organizations know how much they appreciate all the help that has been received. 

The family was able to get enough furniture, kitchen supplies and clothing. He also mentions gratitude for their landlord and her friends who have shown a lot of kindness and provided household items and cookware.

A teenaged girl and two teenaged boys sing while playing the keyboard.The Leushko children are thankful for the musical instruments they received during their first Thanksgiving in Canada. The filled their Steinbach home with music, singing songs from their home country of Ukraine.

 There are some musicians in this family, and they are thankful for the musical instruments they received this weekend, a very special Thanksgiving for the Leushko family. 

Leushko and Usach are extending an invitation for everyone to join them for a Ukrainian Thanksgiving service on October 23rd at 2pm at the Steinbach Mennonite Brethren Church on 2nd Street, beside the Steinbach Arts Council. They want to be as welcoming to Steinbach as the community has been toward them and their families. Donations will also be accepted to pay for the travel costs for the Schastlivyy family. 

“Their last name, translated into English, it means ‘Happy,’” Usach says. “We want to help them to be happy, again.” 

Contact Pastor Nikolai Usach at mykola.usach@gmail.com or 204-500-5852 to find out how you can help Ukrainian families who have suffered due to the war.