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Job fair held in Brooklyn for Ukrainian refugees trying to get on their feet

Job fair held in Brooklyn for Ukrainian refugees
Job fair held in Brooklyn for Ukrainian refugees 02:11

NEW YORK -- As we approach the one-year anniversary of Russia's war in Ukraine, many refugees are left in limbo, trying to get back on their feet here in New York.

Nonprofits and companies came together in Brooklyn on Wednesday to help those in need.

A line wrapped around the Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst (JCH), with Ukrainian refugees heading inside for a job fair, hoping to leave with a new opportunity.

"I'm very glad to be here today, and I think it's a great chance to find out more about other company, about other people. Also, to meet other people from Ukraine," Ukrainian refugee Krystyna Matafolova said.

Matafolova came to Brooklyn alone in December. She said it was her first chance to leave Mariupol since the war started in February 2022.

"The troops came very quick to our city. We didn't have a chance to leave, and we stayed there under massive shellings, missiles and everything," she said. "It was very hard to leave because my mom is still there."

Each person at the job fair had a story of survival but also uncertainty.

Speaking through a translator, one couple explained they left their home and business in Kherson to protect their 19-year-old son.

"They were really worried because there was stories of young guys disappearing and being drafted into the Russian army since it was still occupied by the Russian forces then, so as these rumors started spreading, they got really, really nervous and they just grabbed everything. They left their apartment, their business, everything they had," the translator explained.

While hoping and praying the war ends and they can return to Ukraine, they're trying to support themselves here.

Among the hundreds of Ukrainian newcomers meeting employers at the event hosted by the JCH in partnership with the UJA-Federation of New York, there were about 70 companies hiring across multiple industries.

"It's very important for the Ukrainians not only to find work but to also feel supported," said Gelena Blishteyn, COO of the JCH.

Representatives from English language and vocational training courses were also made available for Ukrainian newcomers interested in honing new skills.

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