Ukrainian refugees celebrating Christmas in Utah with gratitude

Dec 25, 2022, 10:42 PM | Updated: 10:48 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Sitting on the couch in his Provo apartment, Legran Tadevosyan read aloud from the Bible as his wife Uliana Rohanova and their two children listened. The parents wanted their kids, 9-year-old Oleksandra and 7-year-old Daniel, to learn the story of Christmas.

The family of four hung out on a quiet holiday together, staying home for most of the day.

While the kids were excited about Christmas, Legran and Uliana didn’t have any friends or family to spend it with.

“We don’t know where places we can visit here,” Uliana explained. “We want to go some places, but we don’t know where we can, or who, or people, or friends. So, it’s hard.”

It’s a far cry from the holiday season a year ago, when the couple and their children spent time with family and friends in their home city of Mariupol, Ukraine.

Photos show Oleksandra and Daniel smiling next to Santa Claus. Uliana has pictures of them with extended family members at a Christmas exhibits and holiday light displays in Mariupol.

Those times feel like a dream now to Uliana, thinking back to living together as a family in Ukraine and speaking in their language.

“We remember about them. We remember how it was,” she said.
Just a few months after the family took photos during Christmas last year, Russia invaded their city.
They lived in fear as bombings and fighting threatened their lives. People they loved died in the war.
Legran and Uliana fled before Mariupol fell to Russia. The couple spent seven months traveling from place to place across Ukrain and Europe, eventually arriving in the US through the Uniting for Ukraine program. They settled in Utah in late October.

For them, leaving everything behind wasn’t a choice.

“We don’t have a place now for return because now Ukraine, it’s a dangerous place,” Uliana said. “And worse than being dangerous, our city is destroyed. And we don’t have a home.”

They wanted to make sure their kids were safe– especially because Uliana is expecting the couple’s third child in February.

“We want to be in a good place. We want to grow up our children in a good place, and we want to be alive. It’s the most important part,” she said.

Uliana and Legran found out about her pregnancy shortly after they left Ukraine.

“It was surprise,” she said, with a laugh. “But we are happy about it.”

The couple may not have the same network of family and friends in Utah as they did back in Ukraine, but they still have Christmas cheer this season. They put up a Christmas tree and decorated their apartment with tinsel, lights, and stockings above a faux fireplace they created with paper.

“You need some joy and happiness,” Uliana said.

They’re able to talk to Uliana’s family in Mariupol every once in a while, but Uliana explained that cell service is often out. They got to talk to them the day before Christmas, and said their family back home is trying to make the best of things too.

When the couple welcomes their little girl to the world in a couple of months, they know she’ll be safe– and they expressed that it is giving them hope during the holidays.

“We are happy because we are together,” Uliana said. “Because it’s so important you have all your family, and your life. It’s so important.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth home, which is operated by the National Park Service. (David Gol...

Dave Alsup and Aya Elamroussi

Good Samaritans saved Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home in Atlanta from being burned to the ground, officials say

Two Utah tourists helped foil an attempt to set the birth home of Martin Luther King Jr. on fire.

42 minutes ago

Carfax found that roughly 2.1 million vehicles in Utah have rolled back odometers. (KSL TV)...

Matt Gephardt

Odometer fraud is making a comeback and could cost car buyers thousands of dollars

Con artists selling used cars have a new way of rolling back an odometer, making it significantly cheaper and quicker for them to achieve. On average, someone who buys a car with a rolled back odometer loses about $4,000.

11 hours ago

WII veteran Ed Carroll at Pearl Harbor. (Courtesy: Ed Carroll)...

Erin Cox and Michael Houck, KSL TV

Utah veteran honored for service at Pearl Harbor 82 years ago

A Utah WII veteran shares his experience of Pearl Harbor as he returned to the island to be honored for his duty to his country.

11 hours ago

(FILE) - Cars on a snowy road in a canyon. (KSL TV)...

Katija Stjepovic and Michael Houck, KSL TV

UHP, UDOT warn drivers to be prepared before driving on snowy roads

As the snowy weather hits Utah's valleys, UHP and UDOT wants every driver to be prepared for the upcoming snowy weather.

12 hours ago

Santa delivering gifts to the kids....

Mike Anderson and Michael Houck, KSL TV

Angel Flight pilots bring gifts, donations to Title I schools

A Title I school in St George is now heading into Christmas with a bunch of new school supplies, - toys for kids in need, and cash donations.

13 hours ago

File photo...

Michael Houck

8-year-old flown to hospital after falling from second-story window in Eagle Mountain

An 8-year-old girl was hospitalized after falling from a second-story window in Eagle Mountain Thursday evening.

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Ukrainian refugees celebrating Christmas in Utah with gratitude