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'I was so, so happy' | Houston-area Ukraine student's family makes it to Poland; trying to come to Texas

She says they’re now headed to the U.S. Embassy in Germany to find out what options they have for coming over to the U.S.

HOUSTON, Texas — An update from a Houston-area foreign exchange student we told you about earlier this week.  

Her family was stuck in Ukraine trying to get to Poland. Desperate to help, the 16-year-old, along with her host family started fundraising.

Capturing their last few miles of leaving Ukraine, Anya Arseienko’s mother sent her a video of their escape from her hometown of Kyiv as it’s under attack by Russian soldiers.

"I just started crying because I was so so happy," Anya said. 

Anya, who is a foreign exchange student at Montgomery ISD, says it took several days, but her mom, sister, grandma and great-grandma all finally made it to Poland. News she was desperate to hear. 

“They’re going from Poland to Germany," Anya said. 

She says they’re now headed to the U.S. Embassy in Germany to find out what options they have for coming over to the U.S.

“It’s just a very unpredictable situation so we feel the best course of action is see if they can apply for something to come over here and just be protected from it," Anya's host father, Brian Boniface said. 

Her host father help set up a fundraiser – raising more than 20,000 dollars to help get them here. 

“This money will help a lot, and I'm so, so grateful," Anya said. 

RELATED: Ukrainian woman shares story after fleeing Russian invasion in Kyiv

 But it won’t be as simple as catching a flight. 

“Other countries like Canada and the UK are taking steps to make family reunification easier," Director of the Women's Rights, Human Rights & Refugees Program at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy Kelsey Norman said. 

Norman says right now, most Ukrainians can’t come to the U.S. without a visa. But with other countries opening more pathways for Ukrainians, the U.S. could soon follow suit. 

“I think if the U.S. doesn’t do something further, it would be very out of pace with what most western nations are doing right now to help support Ukrainians," Norman said. 

RELATED: How to help the people of Ukraine: These relief efforts collecting donations

While Anya is relieved her family has made it to Poland, she is still very worried for her father who, under Marshal Law, is forced to stay in Ukraine. 

Refugee Services of Texas says they haven't received any Ukrainian refugees since the start of this conflict, but they stand ready to accept any. 

But they recommend anyone wanting to come to the U.S. to contact the UN Refugee Agency first. 

They released this statement in response to the situation in Ukraine:

Refugee Services of Texas has received no guidance as yet from its national refugee partners on the future need for possible resettlement of refugees from Ukraine.

RST will absolutely be prepared to resettle refugees from Ukraine to Texas should our national refugee partners, working with the U.S. government, authorize our team of professional humanitarians and volunteers to do so.

Refugee Services of Texas has welcomed 26 Ukrainians since 2014. Of that number, 24 were resettled in the Fort Worth area.

Historically, Ukrainians as a population group have resettled in the Pacific Northwest, which continues to be a destination for immigrants from the former Soviet Union, especially Ukraine, because of family ties there.

Refugees are people who have fled war, violence, conflict or persecution and have crossed an international border to find safety in another country. Refugees are defined and protected in international law.

Those who wish to support refugee resettlement efforts are invited to visit Make An Impact at RSTX.org.

Janelle Bludau on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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