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'The love in Texas is also bigger.' Ukrainian family of 5 arrives in Austin fleeing war

"I hear that everything is bigger in Texas," said Vitalii Makhov. "The love in Texas is also bigger."

AUSTIN, Texas — After days of bouncing around different cities and states, one Ukrainian family has made it to Central Texas. This family of five has been through it all. With their 10-month-old, 6- and 10-year-old, they're starting a new life in a place that welcomed them with open arms. 

"I hear that everything is bigger in Texas," said Vitalii Makhov. "The love in Texas is also bigger."

Dean Dzurilla took Makhov and his family into their home in northwest Austin. In efforts to help support them financially, they started a GoFundMe. Dzurilla said that, within two days, they met their goal of $25,000. They later raised the goal to $35,000. In less than a week, they almost reached it.

Vitali can't seem to express how grateful he is for all the support Central Texans have given him and his family. They've received clothes, a place to stay and are currently in the process of getting a car.

With a heart full of gratitude, only a day after their arrival, Makhov is ready to lend a hand. 

"I want to help other people," said Makhov. "Help Ukraine recover from this terror, from this destruction that is happening."

Makhov remembers waking up the night of Feb. 23 to the sound of blasts near his home. 

"My heart froze. I read that multiple cities and towns were attacked by Russian rockets," Makhov said in the GoFundMe. "The full invasion started. In 60 minutes, all our things were packed back into the car and we were driving to the west."

Because Martial Law is in place, men between 18 and 60 years of age aren't allowed to leave the country. So, Makhov was ready to send his family to Poland while he stayed behind. However, he later discovered he didn't have to stay behind. 

"While waiting, I got the information that men with three or more kids can cross the border," he explained.

They eventually made it to Poland, and through the help of Central Texans, their flights were paid for. They arrived in the U.S. with a place to stay, new toys, clothes and a place to feel safe. 

They're grateful for everything. Now, the next step is finding their daughters a school to attend.


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