NewsSarasota, Manatee County


Ukrainian refugee arrives in Sarasota after fleeing home country

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Posted at 10:09 PM, Apr 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 23:32:01-04

SARASOTA, FLA. — A Ukrainian refugee shared her story with ABC Action News after fleeing her country and her home.

64-year-old Tetiana Rymshyna said her life was good before the war. She was born in Ukraine. She spoke in Russian to ABC Action News while her daughter who lives in Sarasota helped translate.

"I lived in Ukraine. I graduated from a university. I worked in a tax office there. I had a house and a car and was taking care of my granddaughter who is 10 years old. I was very happy," said Rymshyna.

Rymshyna fled the country with her 10-year-old granddaughter. They left by bus. She said the trip was very dangerous and feared for their safety.

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"I managed to get tickets to the bus and I had to go to the bus station early in the morning. I asked my friend to take me there. On the way, we had to cross a bridge that had three huge holes in it and it was shaking, but it was the only way," said Rymshyna.

"Our bus had to cross the road which had mines. There were signs that said mines everywhere and the bus was going and we were just praying for us to be safe and we found out later some cars exploded there the same day. I was covering the eyes of my granddaughter for her not to see all that. I was very scared," she said.

Rymshyna said it took at least 48 hours to get to Poland.

"We almost didn't stop at all. There were air raid alerts through the whole trip. Our bus had to go around the cities which were bombed. There were two drivers. They would take turns," said Rymshyna.

Rymshyna said her granddaughter had a stuffed animal. She hid money and a phone in it. If she did not survive the trip, she wanted her granddaughter to have a chance to get to Poland safely.

Rymshyna has a tourist visa so she was able to fly to Sarasota from Poland. She arrived in Sarasota this past weekend. Her granddaughter is with relatives in Poland.

Rymshyna is raising money to hire an attorney and get her granddaughter to the United States.

"When I arrived to Sarasota. They found out I was from Ukraine. The pilots, the crew and all the passengers started to clap. It was very touching and a moving moment because I felt people still care about each other," said Rymshyna.

"I feel very happy and safe here. I'm relieved, but at the same time my heart is hurting because I cannot help my granddaughter who stayed with her relatives in Poland," she said.

To learn more about Rymshyna and to help her granddaughter, click here.