LAUDERDALE LAKES, FLA. (WSVN) - A Ukrainian family is in tears but safe in South Florida after they went through a long and harrowing journey to escape their country.

After weeks of struggling to survive, Olga Sadretdinov and her daughters Oryna and Varvara have a new home, a new language and a new life in Lauderdale Lakes after escaping the harsh reality of the relentless Russian bombardment of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

“We were sitting in a little shelter, and my little daughter would say, ‘Mom, I’m so hungry,’ and what would I do? I didn’t have anything to give them,” said Olga through a translator.

“When you just put the video and I started hearing the shelling of the soldiers, everything came up to me again, and I remember how I heard of this, and I’m reliving it again,” said Oryna through a translator.

Sophia Vagnini is translating for Olga and her daughters, 18-year-old Oryna and 8-year-old Varvara.

Vagnini has helped fellow Ukrainians over the five decades she has been in the U.S. but nothing remotely like this.

The trio survived the bitter cold in Mariupol for weeks, watching as the group of people who risked their lives for food and water were picked off by Russian troops.

“About 15 people would leave for food and water. Only 10 would come back,” said Olga.

The Ukrainian refugees said those troops kidnapped them.

“They said, ‘Get out, get out, we are helping you,’ and we said, ‘We don’t want that, we don’t want that,'” said Oryna, “and they speak with their rifles, their automatic rifles, and said, ‘No, no, no, you have to get out and go in our vehicles.'”

The soldiers sent the family to a Russian city with no food or water before putting them on a train to another. 

“But then they said, ‘We really need to go to the bathroom,’ and they said, ‘Go,’ and then other strange people, they told us, ‘Run there, run there’, and we ran. We ran like crazy,” said Olga.

Olga and her daughters made it to Poland, straightened out some passport issues, and thanks to fundraising in the U.S., made it to Mexico on Orthodox Easter Sunday.

They were granted humanitarian parole, a safe place to live but little else. They arrived in South Florida on Wednesday morning.

Olga said she knows her husband is safe in Poland, but after their home was destroyed, he doesn’t have a way of getting a passport. Vagnini is hoping Americans will reach out.

“There are so many families like them. There are so many stories, but this is a real story,” said Vagnini. “This is a real family. The first family of Mariupol, of the city that doesn’t exist any longer, and this family is here in our Florida, in our beautiful, beautiful Florida. We have to do something for them. We have to help them.”

The trio are currently temporarily staying with another Ukrainian American. Humanitarian parole is only good for one year.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Sadretdinovs get back on their feet. If you would like to make a donation, click here.

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