Friends of deceased 23-year-old Ukranian-born Wisconsin Dells mother Tetiana Huzhva are working together to rally the Wisconsin Dells community in support of “Justice for Tania.”
Huzhva’s body was found during a welfare check April 4 at her Wisconsin Dells home. Her husband, Fuad Pashayev, was arrested when he returned to the residence later that evening in what police called a “domestic situation.”
Ana Ketchum, friend of Huzhva and her former manager at Goody Goody Gumdrop in Wisconsin Dells, started a GoFundMe titled “Justice for Tania” to raise money for legal fees, travel, memorial services, and the care of Huzhva’s 2-year-old daughter. The GoFundMe began April 6, and has raised more than $28,000 of a $50,000 goal for Huzhva’s family.
Huzhva worked at Goody Goody Gum Drop as a J1 international visa student, but left in the summer of 2018 to work part-time at Applebee’s and spend more time with her daughter.
“She was so sweet, kind and helpful,” Ketchum said. “You never heard a no from her if you needed help with anything.”
Ketchum said Huzhva regularly stopped by the store with her daughter, even after she had moved on in employment, to check in with staff and “see how things were going.”
“Always helpful, happy and always wanting to put a smile on people’s faces,” Ketchum said. “Tania was an amazing friend, a sweet woman and an even greater mom to her 2-year-old daughter.”
Huzhva’s manager at Applebee’s, Heidi Greenwood, said Huzhva was “part of the family” to everyone who worked and ate at the franchise.
“She was a good listener, she spent a lot of time with her daughter,” Greenwood said. “She had a beautiful soul, she was just so beautiful outside and inside, and her daughter is so adorable. Her loss leaves such a large void.”
Greenwood said Huzhva always could be counted on if anyone needed help.
“She was a super hard worker,” Greenwood said. “She started as a server, worked her way up to bartender, and she was next in line to become an hourly manager.
According to Greenwood, many people suspected there were issues at home between Huzhva and her 31-year-old husband, Pashayev.
“Everyone had an idea about the (domestic violence),” Greenwood said. “We were all so protective of her and her daughter… Everyone that worked here tried to help her.”
Greenwood said she hopes Huzhva’s story will convince others in situations dealing with domestic violence to reach out for help, as domestic violence “is bigger than just one person.”
Greenwood is working with businesses and restaurants around the Wisconsin Dells area to create baskets to sell with all proceeds going towards Huzhva’s family and the GoFundMe page.
“Her family wants to bring her back home,” Greenwood said. “It’s amazing how much money has been raised already… and the support of the community.”
Natalia Shchur, a former Wisconsin Dells resident who did not know Huzhva personally but had mutual friends, is working with Huzhva’s family in Ukraine. They are attempting to get an emergency visa so the family can bring the body back for a funeral, and to begin the process of gaining custody of the child to bring back to Ukraine.
“The family can’t get a U.S. Visa,” Shchur said. “They tried going through the Ukraine Embassy, but were transferred to Washington and then Chicago, and no one has been able to help them.”
Under State Department regulations, those who wish to travel to the United States for a funeral or to make arrangements for repatriating the body of an immediate family member must provide evidence the deceased is an immediate relative, and a letter from the funeral director stating the contact information, the details of the deceased, and the date of the funeral.
Huzhva’s family has yet to attain the letter, and Shchur said they are not sure how they will obtain the letter since Huzhva’s only family in the United States is currently at the Columbia County Jail awaiting charges in the death of his wife.
“We don’t know what to do,” Shchur said. “The family has no idea how long it will take, and (the child) is not with her family.”
A State Department Spokesperson told the Dells Events, “First and foremost, visa records are confidential under U.S. law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases. We cannot speculate on whether someone may or may not be eligible for a visa. Whenever an individual applies for a U.S. visa, a consular officer reviews the facts of the case and determines whether the applicant is eligible for that visa based on U.S. law. All visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis.”
Repeated calls over multiple days to Wisconsin Dells Police Chief Jody Ward requesting information about the investigation and status of the child have not been returned.
People facing domestic violence can receive help by contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, or Hope House of South Central Wisconsin at 800-584-6790. If in immediate danger, call 911.