Ukrainian Family Finds Safe Haven Thanks to Smart Match™ on MyHeritage

Ukrainian Family Finds Safe Haven Thanks to Smart Match™ on MyHeritage

March 28th, a little before midnight:Violetta, her daughter Dasha and their dog Udin, get off the car train at Oslo central station. It has been almost 3 days, 5 train rides, and one ferry cruise — across 4 countries — since they managed to escape Ukraine: their home, which has become a battlefield.

站在站台上的一名挪威妇女注意到这三个人,立即跑向他们。很明显,看到他们,她很兴奋,也松了一口气,他们都拥抱在一起,擦去了幸福的眼泪。直到最近,人们才会想到,他们完全是陌生人,根本不知道对方的存在。现在,这个名叫Tatiana的女人在奥斯陆的家中为他们提供了一个安全、温暖的避难所。All thanks to their fresh discovery, made throughMyHeritage: they are family.

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‘The best Christmas present’

The discoveryoccurred just 3 months earlier, on Christmas Eve, 2021.

Violetta Brzezicka, age55, and her husband,Igor Brikez, age 57, celebrated the holiday with Violetta’s 83-year-old mother, Wytalisa Brzezicka, at her home in Kyiv.

Igor, Wytalisa, and Violetta

Igor, Wytalisa, and Violetta

Igor, a passionate MyHeritage user, devoted 3 years to researching his family history, and managed to trace his family tree way back to 1689. He decided it was time to give some attention to his wife’s legacy:“I asked Wytalisa to tell me as much as possible about her family,” Igor says. “Using theMyHeritage app, I simultaneously entered the information and scanned the family photos, enriching my family tree in real time.”

Almost immediately, Igor and Violetta got a Smart Match™ connecting them through Violetta’s grandfather (Joseph Brzezicki) toTatiana Brzezicka,53, from Oslo:another dedicated MyHeritage user who manages 15 family trees with information about 2,287 people and more than 2,000 photographs and archival documents — all going back to the mid-13th century.

MyHeritage’s Smart Matching™ feature informed Igor that Tatiana’s grandfather is Violetta’s half-uncle and Wytalisa’s half-brother.

That very night, December 25, 2021, Igor and Violetta sent a message to Tatiana through the MyHeritage website. Tatiana answered instantly, and they spoke for the first time the next morning. “This was the best Christmas present from MyHeritage to our family,” says Igor. “Violetta and Tatiana spoke for more than two hours. After the initial excitement subsided, Violetta instantly felt she was talking to a dear, close person, and also amazed by the great amounts of valuable information Tatiana shared about their family.”

Fleeing for their lives

Two months later, on February 24, the war broke out.“We woke up to the sounds of explosions,” Igor recalls. “Russia launched missile attacks throughout Ukraine and our hometown of Kyiv. At noon, Tatiana called, urging us to come stay with her at her home in Oslo.”

Finding it hard to leave their home and their life behind, Violetta, Igor, and their young daughterDasha(age 28) moved to the home of their eldest daughter Anastasia, located 100km from Kyiv. They wererepeatedly evacuated to shelters due to severe attacks.

As the war intensified and expanded, there was no doubt their lives were in real danger.阿纳斯塔西娅带着8岁和4岁的两个孩子逃到了伊斯坦布尔。Violetta and Dasha understood, with heavy hearts, they must flee as well — and worst of all, they’d have to leave without Igor. As a man in the age range for military service,he was banned from leaving Ukraine.

Their journeyto find refuge began March 26, on a night train from从乌克兰基辅到波兰赫尔姆。

Photo of Ukrainian woman at refugee center, seated among a row of cots

Dasha at a refugee center in Warsaw, Poland

“The train set off very quietly,” Igor says. “All lights were off, for safety reasons, andall the curtains on the train’s windows were shut, so I couldn’t wave goodbye to my loved ones. I stood on the platform, watching the train disappearing into the darkness of Kyiv’s night.”


Meanwhile, in Helm, a group of volunteers helped Violetta, Dasha, and Udin board a suburban train toWarsaw. After spending a night at a refugee shelter in Warsaw, Polish volunteers took them to a train heading north, toGdynia, a port city on the Baltic coast of Poland.

Photo of woman and dog waiting at a ferry station

Violetta and Udin wait for the ferry in Poland

Tatiana tried to buy them airplane tickets, but the fact that they were traveling with their dog, Udin, complicated matters.In Gdynia, they boarded a ferry and sailed across the Baltic Sea toKarlskrona, Sweden.

Woman standing on deck of the ferry and overlooking the sunset

Violetta on board the ferry to Karlskrona, Sweden

Irena, a volunteer Tatiana had found, waited for the 3 and took them to eat and rest at her home in Karlskrona. At that point they were two train rides away from the final destination: one train toGothenburg, Sweden, and a last train toOslo, Norwaywhere Violetta, Dasha, and Udin finally met up with Tatiana.

Living as one family

For several months now, Violetta and Dasha have been living with Tatiana at her home as one family. Udin, on the other hand, is still trying to make friends with Tatiana’s cat, Lissa.

Photo of three women seated on a bench holding a dog and smiling

From left: Tatiana, Dasha, and Violetta with their dog Udin, in Tatiana’s back yard in Oslo.

This beautiful story was brought to our attention by Igor, who contacted us in April because he was having trouble renewing his MyHeritage subscription due to the war. We were happy and honored to extend Igor’s subscription for free — as we have been doing for all Ukrainian users with existing subscriptions since the war broke out — and we’re deeply grateful to him for sharing his story. Our thoughts are with him and we’re praying that he will soon be safely reunited with his family.

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