Ukrainian family arrives in Apple Valley after fleeing conflict

An Apple Valley family has doubled in size this week after their relatives in Ukraine were granted permission to flee the war there and come to Minnesota for two years.

"We are super grateful," Dasha Lawson told FOX 9. "It’s just been incredible experience all in all."

In only their second week in Minnesota, Lawson’s mother, younger sister, and her sister’s two young children are still adjusting to their new normal. When Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, instantly, their lives changed for good, 

"They woke up early in the morning to the sound of explosions and they knew they couldn’t stay in Ukraine anymore," Lawson said.

In late February the family left behind its home just outside of Kiev and spent three months in Poland; while here in Apple Valley Dasha worked to secure her family’s passage to safety.

"They got here last Monday," Lawson said. "My husband and I flew over to Poland to accompany them."

But none of it might have been possible without the support of strangers. 

Back in April, we shared with you the effort at Dasha’s job, M The Art Of Hair Salon, to raise money for an immigration attorney.

"I’m really grateful for everyone in Excelsior who contributed many thousands of dollars, within the month we raised about $12,000," Lawson said.

From then it was a waiting game, and as each day passed the family was exposed to the harsh reality of war in Ukraine.

It’s hard now for them to not to get caught up thinking about what is still happening to their loved ones they’ve left behind.

"They are destroying Ukrainian people," Liza told FOX 9. "They are raping women and children."

Liza's children, 10-year-old Mark and 5-year-old Adelina, are also now without their father - he was forced to stay behind because of his age.

Soon the children will enroll in school, while their mother takes classes to learn English, and eventually looks for work.

"She doesn’t know what the future holds," Dasha says. "If the war is going to be over [soon] she’ll go back. But we don’t know when that’s going to happen."