In-Depth: Ukrainian family seeks refuge in Texas

Posted at 3:27 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 18:49:18-04

AUSTIN, Texas — "I can't cuss, my child is here," a Ukrainian mother replied in her native language after she was asked if she had words for Putin.

In a unique Austin neighborhood a mother, grandmother, and 9-year-old find refuge from the Ukrainian war.

"This war touched literally every single person on the planet," said Tonya Levchuk.

While the world is talking about Russia's attacks on Ukraine. Tonya's family was in her home country, Ukraine.

"Don't know how a human can order to drop a bomb on a city," said Levchuk.

It's a question so many have been asking. As soon as the attacks started, Tonya watched the news around the clock and tried to find a way to rescue her family.

"Did you think Putin would do this," I asked sitting at her dinner table.

"No I did not even in the worst dream," Tonya said.

She spent the money that was saved up for a honeymoon and started to rescue her family from Ukraine.

"I'm still in denial that this is real, to be honest, even though I understand it is because I've been to Cracow," said Levchuk.

Tonya said she packed a bag and took medical supplies on a flight to Poland. At the same time Tonya's sister, mother, and niece drove for four days making their way to the border. They were lucky and were able to get visas to the U.S.

"These people are from broken families because they had to leave somebody behind," said Levchuk.

They had to leave family members behind as well. Many are on the front lines including the father of her 9-year-old niece.

"They haven't had a chance to process their experience," said Levchuk.

While at the dinner table, Tonya's niece draws a picture on a whiteboard. It's a picture of the family next to the Ukrainian flag.

All this while Tonya's sister remains in tears.

"He's worst than Hitler, He kills kids," said Tonya's sister.

  • 1,151 Ukrainian civilians have died, including 54 children.
  • 1,800 injured civilians. It believes that the actual casualty figures could be higher.