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PARMA, Ohio (WJW) — She says prayer protected them.

A mother shares a harrowing story this Mother’s Day about escaping Ukraine with her 11-year old son.

Her husband was killed before they could make the journey, but they are thankful for the open arms greeting them here in Northeast Ohio.

“They announced that no one can leave their building because they’re gonna be shot dead,” explained Kateryna Krasnorutska.

Through an interpreter, the 36-year old mother describes hiding in a house in her hometown near the city of Kharkiv, about 15 miles from the Ukraine/Russian border. She says Feb. 25, Russian troops occupied the village, shuting off the gas, electricity or communication.

A month later, March 25, her husband ventured outside after breakfast.

“Maybe one second later, I found out he was shot dead,” she said.

He had been shot dead by a Russian sniper. With bombs exploding around them, Ukrainian troops came to rescue them the next day.

“They told everyone that they had three minutes to leave. We had to leave the body of my husband behind because we had to walk maybe 10 miles,” said Krasnorutska.

After taking a road filled with land mines, she says they made it to the city of Lviv, then to Poland, Germany, Mexico City, Tijuana, across the border to San Diego and then to Cleveland and Parma.

“My aunt lives here and that’s why, she took us into her house,” she said.

WJW photo

Krasnorutska says the toughest part of the journey was when she and her 11-year old son made it to Mexico City.

“I was given a visa, but he was not given a visa and they wanted to take him out from me, and I said either he’s coming with me or I’m not going anywhere,” she said.

“I want everybody to have good skies, peaceful skies,” said 11-year old Yaroslav Krasnorutskyi.

“People like this keep coming every day and we see all these, some more dramatic, some less dramatic stories, but there’s a lot of refugees coming and we’re trying to help as a church,” said Deacon Roman Skalsky, assistant pastor at Slavic Full Gospel Church in Broadview Heights.

Deacon Skalsky says the church is helping refugees the best it can.  He says there were two from the destroyed city of Mariupol Sunday and five families last week.

“Some kids are in Africa, some in Australia, all over the world,” said Krasnorutska.

She is an assistant principal at a school in Ukraine and amazingly, she continues to stay in touch with many of her students every morning online.

“Some people had to pay a big price just to have this peace,” she said.

Krasnorutska says the principal of her school still helps teach from the basement of the building in Ukraine.

The Slavic Full Gospel Church, is one of many organizations raising money to take care of refugees who come to our area. The church says if you would like to make a donation to help out the flood of refugees coming to Northeast Ohio, go to their website.