SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The past two months have been a nightmare for Ilona Kavranski as she sees her home country destroyed by the Russian invasion. The trauma is still fresh in her memory as she recalls the moment bombs started to explode near her house in Odessa, Ukraine. Kavranski spoke to ABC10 through a translator.
"She (Kavranski) saw a rocket being hit down right in front of her house. It caused the house to shake, and she was really afraid for her life and for her kids," said her translator.
At that moment, Kavranski decided to grab her three children and flee Ukraine, leaving behind her husband who had to stay behind and fight.
"They are very concerned about him — very worried because they know that war brings death," Kavranski's translator said.
It was a harrowing three-day journey for the Kavranski family to cross the border into Poland, but once they arrived, they faced another dilemma.
"There were a lot of people in Poland — too much, and there wasn't enough help, so they heard people talking about moving to Mexico," Kavranski's translator said.
Kavranski made the decision to fly with her children to Tijuana, which has recently become a popular transit point for many Ukrainian refugees seeking asylum and humanitarian parole to enter the U.S. When they landed at the airport in Tijuana, they ran into staff members from Spring of Life (SOL) Church in Orangevale who were there to assist Ukrainian refugees.
"We say that we're Ukrainians, we're here to help you, (and) we want just safely to transfer you from the airport to border," said Erik Latkovskyi, staff member at Spring of Life Church.
With Latkovskyi's help, Kavranski and her children were able to cross the border and make their way to Sacramento where they were connected with a host family. Sacramento couple John Crater and Helen Sundet decided to open up their home to Ukrainian refugees the day before the Kavranski family's arrival by signing up on SOL Church's website.
"We just literally wanted to help any way we could," Crater said.
"We feel that they're a part of our family already, and we will do anything we can," Sundet added.
Kavranski is grateful to begin a new chapter on American soil and continues to pray for her husband, hoping the war will be over soon.
She hopes to find a job soon and enroll her children in school. Meanwhile, Spring of Life Church is continuing to assist Ukrainian refugees. If you'd like to make a donation or become a host family, you can sign up HERE.