A group of Ukrainian women gathered at Morden's Westside Community Church to bake cherry pies to deliver to their host families who opened up their homes and hearts to them to provide a safe and caring home for them when they arrived in Morden.
The initiative came through conversation with the Ukraine to Morden 2022 Committee to show appreciation for these hosts.
The committee shared this statement.
"Since early 2022, our area has seen many arrivals from Ukraine who have been displaced by war in their country. They have come to Canada through a Federal emergency work permit program, Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET). The volunteer-based Ukraine to Morden 2022 Committee has been working hard all year to offer assistance and support to those who have decided to start their new life in Morden or temporarily shelter in Morden because of family/friends already in Morden, job offers in Morden, etc. The committee acknowledges the efforts of so many in the community as it welcomes this unplanned influx of new arrivals, and is thankful for the kindness shown."
Mariia Diiun is one of the ladies who baked and delivered the pies, she shared the reason she is grateful
"We moved here from the central part of Ukraine four months ago, and we really appreciate their kindness, their welcoming, they were so kind to us and we became friends and we became even a family. We usually communicate with each other or we have suppers together. We really love them. I consider them to be our Canadian family. We are very grateful to this family."
Mariia Semenova and her family were one of three different people who stayed with Morden's Lisa Zaretsky.
"Honestly, I had a choice to live in the hotel or to stay with a host family. I chose a host family because I decided to improve my English. This is the first thought that came to my mind, but I'm so happy, because I found a friend, she's like a mom. It was so nice to stay with her. I thank God and Cyndi (Kutzner from Ukraine to Morden 2022 Committee) who offered it to me."
Morden's Lisa Zaretsky's grandparents came from Ukraine to Canada years ago. She said sharing her space after living alone for a while made her nervous but wanted to open her home anyway. She said it was a great experience.
While reflecting on the relationships that have grown as a result of this sacrifice, tears flowed as the gratitude for the experience went beyond words.
"We have different kind of hardness in our life. We have modern technology, we have easy access to food and water, which is so much different than 95 years ago when my grandparents came to Canada." Zaretsky shared. "But there's still lots of challenges, and we that are already here and no matter who comes here, we can help them be at home, be who they are, bring their culture and their beauty and joy to enrich our lives."
Olha Bosiuk also tearfully expressed her gratitude for Lisa opening her home to her as she left behind family and friends to flee the war and start a new life.
"I was in Lisa's home for a one month. It was very good practice for me because it was able to practice my English. I spoke only English with Lisa. I could not speak Ukrainian, but Lisa now knows some Ukrainian words. I'm very happy Lisa supported me and helped me. This is a very good woman and sometimes I'm very sad for Lisa. Thank you, Lisa."
Since the CUAET program started bringing people to Canada, providing them work visas for three years, 75 families have come to Morden. Saturday, 30 cherry pies were baked, packaged and delivered to host families who have provided a safe and caring place, some, like Lisa, to more than one, until the displaced Ukrainians could find their own home to live in.