Rochester woman’s sister in Ukraine helps others flee the country

Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 10:26 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – It’s the unbreakable bond of two sisters that allows them to hold tight on strength while living miles apart.

“I know it’s late and I’ll connect tonight for me and tomorrow for you,” said Alexandra Wolanskyj- Spinner.

She was video chatting with her sister Lidia Wolanskyj, who lives in Ukraine, around 2 p.m. on Thursday. The time for Lydia was 9 p.m.

“Love you,” Alexandra said. As the women ended the call.

“She really inspires me in so many ways. She’s been a pioneer her whole life,” Alexandra said.

Alexandra’s sister is opening up her home in Ukraine to help other Ukrainians.

“I’ve been trying to help people who are running the areas where they are much more active military action. I’ve had people from Kyiv. I had an American guy with his Ukrainian wife and her daughter and niece. They were here for about five days and then they left for Romania,” Lidia said.

Lydia lives in Yaremche, which is a small mountain village with about 8,000 people. The village is more than 300 miles from the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv.

“The very first day, two airports were hit about 50 kilometers away from here which is about 35 miles,” she said.

Lidia has no plans on leaving the country.

“Not unless I see the whites in their eyes and the barrels of their guns,” she said.

That was statement was tough for her sister, Alexandra, to hear.

“She’s courageous. But I don’t know about you, but I don’t know if I would stay until I could see the whites of the soldier’s eyes or the barrel of his gun. You know, I think I’d be out of there like a long time ago. And I kept wanting her to escape to Romania but she doesn’t want to because she said, ‘this is my home. I’m helping people,’” Alexandra said.

The sisters ask Americans to contact their lawmakers so the U.S. can provide Ukraine more support.

“There’s been such enormous damage done,” Lidia said. “My cousins were telling me it’s the scariest thing in the world is when you’re in your house and bombers start flying over your head and there’s nowhere you can go.”

They also hope the world keeps faith in the country known for its blue skies, wheat fields and sunflowers

“Pray. Pray that this comes to an end. You know, even if the entire country is devastated people will rebuild. Because Ukrainians don’t give up. They just don’t.”

The last time the sister saw each other was in 2019 in America.

RELATED STORY: Rochester community hosts rally to support Ukraine

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