ST. JOHN’S, NL — Over the past six months, Tata Senyk has realized that two opposite ideas can be true at the same time.
Like the Russians who invaded his home country of Ukraine, the people are “completely insane”.
“You can’t even believe the degree of madness,” she said. “When you keep reading the news and you keep reading (what) the Russians are doing, you get really frustrated. No force can stop them.”
She has been through a lot of stress, depression and endured many nightmares since her family was forced to flee their home in Dnipro, a city in eastern Ukraine, leaving loved ones behind.
But like the people in Canada who welcomed her, her husband Oleksi and their son Myron with open arms, the people are so kind, it seems crazy.
“Here in Canada, time goes by, you start to untangle this bundle of nerves… Day by day, you get used to people being normal,” she said.
The family has been walking everywhere since arriving in St. John’s. It’s great for their health, says Tata, but they dream of going fishing and whale watching.
Recently, Oleksi, a trade manager, was heading to Kenmount Road to inquire about buying a car. The plan was to go further, but noticing the upcoming construction, he ventured to the Subaru Capital.
“It was fate,” Oleksi said.
Touched by their story
Sales Manager Chris Smith took Oleksi for a test drive in a used vehicle and was moved by the family’s story. After talking to general manager Greg Stowe about it, they both decided something had to be done.
And the owners were also immediately on board, Stowe said.
“They’ve suffered enough, they’ve suffered enough,” Stowe said. “They were uprooted from a different country, moved to a foreign place that is new to them. Lots of anxiety, lots of apprehension. We had to make this a little easier.
“Chris asked me, what can we do to help these people? Can we get it at a discount? What can we do? I said, ‘No, Chris, we’re going to do better than that. We will give them a car.
It was an amazing day when he presented the plan in his office.
“She started crying, I started getting emotional. It was pretty cool,” he said.
Tata, who works as an English translator, said they did not expect this level of kindness and consideration.
“Watching the events unfolding in Ukraine from so far away, Canadians, kind-hearted people want to help in some way,” she said after receiving the keys to their vehicle. “And I guess by helping Ukrainians, you feel like you’re helping Ukraine.”
Having a vehicle means more freedom, Tata said. And to say that they were surprised would be to say nothing.
“We were shocked, we didn’t expect it,” she said. “I’m struggling to find the words.”
The situation in Ukraine is changing all the time. Looking from afar, she feels like two people.
“You can have coffee and laugh. And then you watch the news and you cry,” Tata said.
The most important thing is that they are physically safe, that 15-year-old Myron can continue his studies and no longer suffer from the constant buzz of air raid sirens.
And although Myron is most excited to start playing football and basketball again, he has marked his calendar for the day he can apply for a learner’s permit and get behind the wheel, Tata said.