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Ukrainian refugees prepare for first Christmas in San Diego

The Priadko family now call San Diego home after they were forced to leave a comfortable life in the city of Zaporizhzhia due to Russian bombing.

Father, Olexand, mother, Nataliia, daughter, Mariia and son, Misha, arrived with all their worldly goods in suitcases and they barely spoke a word of English.

“As a mama it’s been extremely stressful," Nataliia Priadko said through a translator.


They are the lucky ones though. Fellow Ukrainian Olga Ginzburg read about the Pryadkos' plight on Facebook and arranged for them to stay with her in San Diego.

Ginzburg can sympathize with the Pryadkos’ situation, as she fled Ukraine over two decades ago. Her father was killed and she, her mother and sister were forced to move to the U.S. for their own safety.

“To leave your friends, to leave your school, to leave everything that you’re used to. To go somewhere and start from zero when you had a nice life there. You come and you don’t know what to expect,” Ginzburg said.

Ginzburg now owns a dance studio in Miramar. The Priadko's 13-year-old son, Misha, is one of her star students.

Ginzburg’s kindness means the world to Nataliia.


“She’s grateful for the situation they’re in," the translator said. “Particularly because they’ve been lucky enough for her son to come here and find this studio and do his favorite thing he likes to do, and that brings her joy."

Despite the pain of being so far away from home during the holidays, a miracle is on the horizon for the Priadko family: They’ve managed to help Nataliia’s mom, Valentyna, escape from Ukraine. She’s due to arrive in San Diego just in time for Christmas.

While most kids will be hoping to wake up to presents Christmas morning, Misha wants something money can’t buy: "For the war to be over," he said.