Lev Golinkin, author of the memoir "A Backpack, a Bear and Eight Crates of Vodka," discusses his family's 1989-90 journey from Ukraine to the U.S. during an appearance at HIAS headquarters in New York City.
I was a very sick infant. In fact, I almost starved to death. So why would I voluntarily agree now to live on $1.50 a day for five days? Because HIAS saved my life as a child, and this is how I’m giving back.
This week HIAS Ukraine Director Aleksandr Galkin met with Valeria Lutkovska, the Ukrainian Commissioner for Human Rights, to discuss migration and asylum issues and enhancing collaboration to better protect refugees.
After a little more than a year working at HIAS in Ukraine, I was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study human rights and refugee law in the United States. Seeing Ukraine’s asylum system from this new perspective allows me to value Ukraine’s comparative freedom from bureaucracy, but also increases my concern about the country’s relatively low level of respect for the rule of law and human rights.