Even in the face of intensifying air strikes and the devastating toll of constant shelling - along with dwindling, food, water and medicine - Ukraine refuses to surrender the city of Mariupol, which Russia demanded it hand over.
The constant thought of war is still fresh in the mind of Olena, who managed to escape and has taken refuge in South Florida.
“It was a very deep and low sound, the sound always in my head even now,” she said when describing the scene. “5 in the morning, I wake up because of the explosion. My body started shaking, it was all trembling in my body because I understand.”
She lived in Kyiv when the invasion started in late February and was able to make it to Poland after a treacherous journey. The mission included sleeping in basements and driving through dangerous roads with her father, who stayed behind.
“We understand we can be attacked by helicopter - we are on the same road Ukrainian military can go,” she said.
After two nights in Poland, Olena made the decision to leave Europe.
“I just check the tickets for direct flights and the first ticket was to Miami,” she said.
Now here for the time being, Oleana says she feels fortunate that she was able to make it to the United States. Despite facing an uncertain future, she’s hopeful and thankful for the kindness of strangers in helping her get by.
“All civilians understand war is damaging to normal, peaceful people,” Olena said, adding she hopes to eventually go back to Ukraine after the war.