Maryna Shkuro was in her hometown of Kyiv when the Russian invasion began.
The sight of a missile in a playground just outside of her apartment window after hiding in basements for a couple of days was her cue to leave Ukraine.
The missile, she said, did not explode.
“I have tears in my eyes because it was just hell and terrible,” Shkuro said. “...We were sleeping (when the Russian invasion began). It was five in the morning, 5:30 in the morning, I think. My sister called me from the U.S. She was like, ‘Wake up! Pack your bags! Run away!’”
She and her mother Anna spent days traveling by foot and car and found refuge in Hungary along the way. Maryna captured images she says she’ll never forget.
“All these little kids, with their moms. They’re just standing, just waiting to cross the border,” Shkuro said. “And it was just a nightmare. I never wish to anyone in the world to experience this.”
She says she and her mother have tourists visas and found a place to stay through a friend in South Florida, but even a world away, there is still no peace of mind.
“For the first few weeks when I came here I couldn't sleep,” Shkuro said. “... But I left on the second day and I've experienced all this kind of trauma on myself. I can’t imagine people who are staying still there.”
That’s why she and other Ukrainians in South Florida took to the streets Friday in Sunny Isles, to demand a no-fly zone, an action President Biden has said could spark World War Three.
“Ukraine cannot win this war without two main things,” Julia Lemesh, organizer of Friday’s rally said. “Fighter jets or Migs and without advanced anti-aircraft warfare.”
They stand united with those back in Ukraine and pray for an end to the war.
“We're just praying and hoping that it will finish soon,” Shkuro said. “And we're thankful for all the countries that are supporting (us).”