There was a familiar scene at flights to Birmingham Airport on Friday night.

An emotional welcome of hugs and tears.

But for Ukrainian refugee Yuliia Korzun and her British patron, Emma Nishigaki, it means much more.

Ms. Korzun has just arrived from the Romanian capital Bucharest. The last leg of the journey began a few weeks earlier in the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv.

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So on Saturday morning, Miss Korzun woke up to a new day, in a new country, and at least now a new life.

She is 2,000 miles from her home in southern Ukraine. When she sits at Evesham eating a full English, it must feel like a million.

“On March 14 or 15, I understood that if someone can come to your door to kill you, this is not right,” she said in her excellent English.

“I decided that I needed to go somewhere else. I wanted to be useful, so I wanted to find a place where I could be useful.”

Miss Korzun traveled more than 2,000 miles to Birmingham

Ms. Korzun fled first to Bulgaria, then to Romania, before flying from Bucharest to Birmingham.

Ms. Nishigaki and her husband Kee matched Ms. Korzun at the end of March.

They applied for her visa three days later. After reviewing the application, with help from Evesham MP Nigel Huddleston, it was approved earlier this week.

On the day Ms. Korzun was granted her visa, originally for a six-month stay, hundreds of others in her hometown lined up for a bus to take them to safety in Romania.

Emma Nishigaki welcomed Yuliia into her home
Ms. Nishigaki welcomed Miss Korzun into her home

Ms. Nishigaki said that there was no real discussion between her and her husband about sponsoring refugees. It was something that they both immediately thought was the right thing to do.

“There’s a strange almost guilt feeling that you’re not going to go through what these people are going through,” she said.

“A situation that they didn’t ask for, they didn’t want, and they had no control over.

“And if you can go to bed every night knowing that you did at least one good thing or made someone happy or that you made someone smile, then that day your life is worth living. “

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Two more Ukrainians will visit Ms. Nishigaki’s home in Evesham on Saturday night.

Their progress was not as smooth as Ms. Korzun’s because of the problem of traveling through France.

The funding process is something that Ms. Nishigaki wants to simplify and speed up.

But for Ms. Korzun and her fellow refugees, who have successfully applied, it has provided a path to safety.

Their main concerns now are the well-being of their loved ones left behind, and their fear of what they might come back to once the war is over.


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