‘Hope is always there’: Ukrainian refugees celebrate first Fourth of July in the Inland Northwest

SPOKANE, Wash. – Refugees who escaped Ukraine are settling into their new life in Spokane and are celebrating their first Fourth of July. 

Just a few months ago, the Fokin family left everything behind and ended up in a safe haven – a former hotel now housing refugees with nowhere else to go. 

“Often when I express how much people, our city, our state have helped us – I often begin to cry,” said Ukrainian refugee Ruslan Fokin. 

Fokin has never experienced the kind of support he has seen in the states. 

“Even my own country has not given me so much opportunity that this country has given me in the last two months I’ve been here,” he said. 

He is in Spokane with his wife and daughter, who cannot wait to be a part of this year’s holiday celebrations. 

“Many people, to experience the atmosphere of a holiday celebration, to hear music,” Snizhana Movchan said. 

They plan to take it all in at Riverfront Park, where families will gather to eat local food, hear music from the Spokane Symphony and watch the annual fireworks show. 

Knowing loved ones are left behind in Ukraine isn’t easy for any of them, but they are drawing on American ideals to get them through. 

“What keeps me going is, I’m an independent person and I’m a free person. I am not forced by anyone to do anything,” Fokin said. 

Living here has given them a new sense of purpose in their lives. 

“Freedom means for me to be near and with my loved ones. Freedom means to have an opportunity to build a future,” Movchan said. 

It’s a future they want to keep creating in America as they hope for their homeland to find peace. 

“Hope is always there, we are, of course, for our country, and hope is the last thing we have.” 

READ: Happy 4th! Here’s what you need to know about the fireworks show at Riverfront Park

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