Ukrainian teen finds friends, support in New Orleans after fleeing war

A Ukrainian teen has found a new home in New Orleans after fleeing his war-torn country.



Natalya Hines, who was born in Ukraine, brought her 18-year-old nephew to Louisiana shortly after the Russian invasion in 2022.

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Orest has since enrolled in classes at Metairie Park Country Day School, where the teen says he is making friends and regaining a sense of normalcy in his life.

“(The school) is focused on community, like you can easily find a friend,” said Orest. “It was a big deal for me to find a friend.”

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Orest plans to stay in the United States to attend college.

Meantime, back home in Ukraine, his mother gave birth to a baby girl at the beginning of the year.

“I remember when we first talk, when my mom told me, she was crying because she was thinking that I will think she’s trying to trade me, to find a new kid because I’m abroad. I said, ‘No. I’m fine. I’m good with this,'” said Orest.

Hines told WDSU her family is overwhelmed by the support they’ve received since Orest’s arrival. She said they are hopeful Ukraine will prevail in the war.

“Those folks who know Ukraine, or Ukrainian people, they know the unbreakable spirit,” said Hines. “But I know the Ukrainians will never allow Russia to rule them.”

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