Ukrainian refugees help restore historic ferry
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Two months ago, Nikkita Zakharchenko and his partner Leza Kovryha fled to Alaska after the war hit Ukraine.
The two arrived in Anchorage in June as part of the Uniting for Ukraine program. Through the program — with the help of sponsorship — the two were granted to stay in the United States for two years. After staying in Anchorage for two days, the couple moved to Ketchikan to start their new lives together.
“Here is like in movies,” Zakharchenko said. “We are living a normal life now. We are starting to study English.”
The two have been enjoying riding bikes and kayaking in Ketchikan. The couple has been living on the retired Malaspina, one of the oldest ferry boats in Alaska. Back in June, John Binkley purchased the ferry with the plans of transforming it into a museum.
Marharita Leontovych, another refugee from Ukraine, is also living on the ferry. The trio has been volunteering their time and working with employees on the ferry to help restore it.
“They do volunteer work in helping get the boat all cleaned up,” Binkley said. “He [Nikkita] worked on ships for half a decade. So he understands and knows ship work life. He has been invaluable.”
The trio said they are very thankful for everyone in the community and the constant support they have received.
“And everybody want to help us, like, here in Ketchikan, also, we feel the support every day,” Zakharchenko said.
Correction: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of names.
Copyright 2022 KTUU. All rights reserved.