Syracuse couple to help Ukrainian refugees in Poland, hope to bring families to US

Apr 3, 2022, 10:13 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 10:46 pm

SYRACUSE, Utah — A Syracuse neighborhood is rallying around a couple who is flying out to Poland to help refugees on-the-ground.

Leyla Kazvin and her husband Ashim originally planned to fly to Poland for 10 days using their own personal savings and PTO. But when some of their neighbors found out what they were doing, they quickly jumped on board to support them.

Kazvin couldn’t just sit on the sidelines. She said she was feeling helpless watching TV news stories coming out of Europe, as millions of Ukrainians fled their country.

“When we saw the women and we saw the fear in their face, it felt like, okay, well at this point, I can’t bring up any excuse not to help. I have to do something about it,” Kazvin expressed.

She knows what that fear is like having lived in Azerbaijan in the early 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Kazvin said she remembers the upheaval as a little girl, including an event in 1990 where the Russian army killed a number of protesters.

Watching the invasion of Ukraine, she indicated, gave her a flashback.

“I do remember that event because I was out on the street, I was playing around, I had a lot of friends and we saw it with our own eyes,” Kazvin remembered. “The feeling that you have when you have a tank that you see that’s coming toward you, you see a soldier, and you don’t what to make out of it.”

Kazvin and her husband decided to put their feelings of wanting to help into action by buying plane tickets to Poland.

She explained their plan is to rent two vans to drive refugees from the border to other areas. They are also ready to help bring refugees food and supplies, or provide hotel rooms for people to stay in.

Leyla speaks the language, and will be able to easily communicate to find out the needs of the people they come across.

“There will be no barriers,” Kazvin said. “So I think that my background, my language skills, and just the willingness to help, I think will do a great part in the whole effort.”

The couple’s neighbor, Danny Hellyar, heard about their plan and knew he wanted to help.

“To me, that was pretty inspiring,” he said.

He started to spread the word to other neighbors. Now, they’ve got a whole neighborhood behind them, donating to a GoFundMe* account to help the couple.

Kazvin expressed how their ultimate goal is to help a Ukrainian family migrate to Utah, and she’s prepared to sponsor them and take them in.

Hellyar has also offered to take in a family.

Depending on how much money they raise, the couple indicated they will work on bringing a couple of families to Utah.

They said they’ve spoken with missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helping in the refugee center in Poland, and plan to work with them to identify those families they can help.

“What Ashim and Leyla are doing, to me, is so personal and direct that it just has more meaning to me, more depth,” Hellyar said.

A depth, they hope, will make a difference in Poland — all the way from Utah.

*KSL-TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Syracuse couple to help Ukrainian refugees in Poland, hope to bring families to US