HONOLULU (KHON2) — A Ukrainian mother and daughter with ties to Hawaii are now safe.

KHON2 found out how the Islands played a role in their journey.

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Kira and Katya were hunkered down in a Ukrainian basement when KHON2 first reported their story in March. They made a long trek to Germany and spoke with KHON2 on Wednesday, Sept. 7.
Katya’s cousin on Oahu, Antonina Thompson, translated their words from Ukrainian to English.

“She said that everybody pitched in to help, Hawaiians, Americans, Germans, basically from around the world donated and helped her,” Antonina said for Katya.

Kira celebrated her 10th birthday during the trip; The family asked to keep her face shielded and Kira wore a mask to hide her features during her conversation with KHON2. It has been a long road, but Kira is excited to start school in September.

“She’s very excited to learn the languages, German and English, so she can communicate with the German people and her friends,” Antonina said for Kira.

It would not have been possible if it had not been for Hawaii Stands with Ukraine — a local group that works to help refugees and send money to those who are still in Ukraine. Assisting people like Kira and Katya is what it is all about.

“So, each time that happens, there’s like a certain satisfaction, like, ‘Oh, thank goodness, I was able to make a difference in somebody’s life,” said Lara Palafox, Hawaii Stands with Ukraine public relations manager.

In Hawaii alone, Palafox said around $90,000 has been raised and sent to Ukrainians in need. Kira and Katya are thankful for all of those who have helped as the war drags into winter months.

“She’s grateful for all the support, without them, she would not receive this support and this place where she lives now,” Antonina said for Kira.

It may seem like a marathon as the war passes the half-year mark, but Palafox said her group is not made up of sprinters. Click here to visit the Hawaii Stands with Ukraine Facebook page or click here to check out their Art Auction for Ukraine.

“I’m trying to be that marathon runner and sow is our group. Just saying, ‘You know what, we’re here for the duration,'” Palafox said.

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The Art Auction closes on Friday, Sept. 9 at 9 p.m.