Local family lends vacation home to Ukrainian friends

HARBOR BEACH, Mich. (WXYZ) — A Ukrainian family that survived several days in a bomb shelter is starting over in Michigan with friends.

Lyudmila Denisyuk and Alexander Vinnitsy are in Michigan seeking refuge at a beach home off Lake Huron.

“We were all in the same class. We were best friends for many years,” Gennady Brayman said.

The West Bloomfield man has been friends with the couple from Ukraine for decades.

The pair is living in Brayman’s beach house to stay out of the danger’s way in Ukraine.

They are from Bucha, a suburb outside the city of Kyiv. The area was heavily destroyed by Russian soldiers.

“They felt it. The first day of war. They felt bombs around them,” said Brayman, who translated for Denisyuk.

This forced them to take shelter in their basement.

“There is no light, energy, there is no water — Nothing. They had to stay down there. Some people tried to go out, but they were shot,” she explained.

The couple says they hid in a tank for about 10 days before making the decision to leave their country that was under attack.

“There’s no other way. Either you stay and die, or you leave,” Brayman said.

They left Ukraine on March 6 and arrived in Detroit on the March 11 before heading to Harbor Beach.

“They consider themselves lucky,” Brayman said.

They say they’re lucky to be alive and have a place to call home.

“There are so many people that they know — their friends that are not alive anymore. That were killed,” he added.

A neighbor back home in Ukraine recently sent them pictures of what their home look like now under Russian invasion.

In one picture, they’re told Russian soldiers carved a hole in the fence of their backyard. In another, you can see a mess on the dining table that they believe was left by Russian soldiers.

In another picture, you can see a note from soldiers left on a mirror that reads, “Thank you for the hospitality and sorry for the mess!”

Denisyuk says the soldiers took a lot of their stuff, but what they can’t take away is their love and pride for their country.

She goes on to say that she appreciates the continued support the world is showing Ukraine, adding “We need weapons. We need support. We need to close the sky and we sure will win.”