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Ukraine survivor shares story seeking refuge in Lake Worth Beach

'Ukraine is a lot of memories. It's my childhood,' survivor says
Valentyna Zidan and her mother Liudmyla Moiseieva escaped Ukraine
Posted at 11:38 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 23:38:35-05

LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — People throughout Ukraine continue to flee their country after attacks by Russia. Now, some are calling South Florida home.

Valentyna Zidan and her mother, Liudmyla Moiseieva, flipped through photo albums as they reflect on the life they left behind in Ukraine.

"Ukraine is a lot of memories. It's my childhood. We traveled a lot," said Valentyna Zidan, a Ukraine native who has lived in Lake Worth Beach for six years.

Zidan got her parents in Ukraine immigration visas to move in with her, but the day of her mother's trip, things took a turn for the worse.

"At the end of the day and in the morning when everybody was sleeping, they started to bomb, so they canceled the flight," said Zidan.

The Russian invasion caused flight after flight to get canceled starting her mom's seven-day journey from Kremenchuk, hopping on trains and buses filled with refugees trying to escape.

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"At one point, I made the decision, even if it's needed to walk ... I can walk just to make it here," said Moiseieva, who escaped Ukraine. "When I was leaving my sister, when I was saying goodbye to her, I was saying that I might not see her again."

After five days with only what she could carry, she made it to Poland. Then she flew to Turkey and finally to the United States.

"Do you feel guilty having left your country?" asked WPTV reporter Joel Lopez.

"I do," answered Moiseieva. "I know if I would've stayed there I would help maybe to cook or do something that I could handle because everybody can do so much."

Today the family is living together in Lake Worth Beach.

"You know, a lot of my friends ask, 'Well, you probably feel happy your mom is here. She's safe. She's happy now,'" said Zidan. "Yes, she's safe, but all my friends, all my family is still there. A lot of my friends that I know, they lost their homes and even some of them their life."

Moiseieva said she has constant nightmares and has trauma of the sounds of planes.

Right now, they are able to communicate with family in Ukraine but worry about what the future will bring.

"Everybody has something important to them, but we think that the most important thing is peace and, you know, that your family is safe," said Zidan.