Met by their Australian cousin Olena Torchynska in Poland, young twins Arina and Kiril Torchynska with their mother Sasha Torchynska, grandparents, cousin and auntie escaped Ukraine to travel to Australia, before finding a home in Redcliffe in Brisbane.
“They only basically arrived with the shirts on their back because they didn’t have time to pack,” Olena Torchynska translated.
“They made the decision within 10 minutes and put everything in the car, they literally arrived with nothing and it was winter so it was very difficult.”
The family is now working to improve their English and find jobs while the young twins attend school on a full scholarship.
At every opportunity, the family seeks out news from back home and checks in with family members forced to stay behind.
During a Facetime call to the twins’ father, Vovo Torchynska, mandated to stay behind to assist with ongoing war efforts, the lights in their Kyiv home are switched off due to ongoing air raids.
“Really missing his family,” Olena Torchynska translates.
“He’s saying there’s shooting and shelling going on at the moment in Kyiv.”
Sasha Torchynska said settling in a new country has been extremely challenging but a decision ultimately made to protect her family.
“We come because we tried to save our family, we tried to save our children,” she said.
“It was very hard to leave our husbands in Ukraine everything is new for us in Australia.
“Everyday we look at the news.”
The seven family members are sharing a two-bedroom rental in south-east Queensland, with hopes of finding new jobs and a bigger place to stay.
Despite their heartbreak, they say the Redcliffe community has been incredibly welcoming, providing them with clothing, essentials and services like free haircuts to assist wherever they can.
This week, a fundraising event was held at the Moreton Daily Stadium, supported by the Vidler Family Foundation and community donations, to help the Torchynska’s get back on their feet.
“I’m hoping to pay for immigration lawyers and transport, a car for the family,” Olena Torchynska said.
For the family, their greatest hope is an end to the war and to be reunited with their loved ones.
“Stop the war,” Yana Torchynska said.