Ukrainian family escapes war, seeking safety in Utah

Apr 4, 2022, 7:37 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2022, 12:42 pm

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — Flashback to February, Olga Kyivskyi and her 6-year-old son, Mark, were headed to visit a friend in Bountiful.

A couple weeks later, as unrest unfolded in Ukraine, Kyivskyi was in Salt Lake City while her husband was in Poland.

They turned on their Ring camera. There, they saw bombs outside their home of Kyiv.

Her husband just missed seeing those bombs in person, having caught a flight out of Ukraine just as the unrest got worse.

All three family members are now safe in Utah.

Kyivskyi says she’s trying to safeguard her young son.

“He’s just like, everyday, ‘Oh, I left my favorite clothes or favorite toys. When will we be able to go back there?'” Kyivskyi said.

The truth is: maybe not for a long time.

“We don’t have an answer yet. We don’t know where we’re gonna end up or what we’re gonna do. Like, right now, there is no legal, good way to stay in the U.S., unfortunately,” Kyivskyi said.

Hoping to lighten their burden back home is help from Utah, including Heidi Olsen.

“I’ve been in grocery stores and factories for the past two weeks,” Olsen said.

Buying a one-way ticket to Poland, Olsen is working with a variety of organizations, including Orphan Smiles, by packing hundreds of boxes filled with food, sweets, and other items for young adults who need help. Specifically, they are focusing on those who are disabled.

“I feel helpless. In some ways, I’m being useful, but I just feel really close to it, like, it’s very close. They’re individuals whose names I know, people who I, like, went to school with’ — it’s their brother or their mother. It’s all kind of connected,” said Olsen.

It’s the hope to stay connected that has Kyivsjyi hanging on to hope.

“Everyone in Ukriane right now, we have to hold on and we have to win because there is not another option where we can live in this whole country without winning,” Kyivskyi said.

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Ukrainian family escapes war, seeking safety in Utah