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Utah family scrambling to get relatives out of Ukraine

Posted at 9:21 PM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 23:21:20-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah family is getting support from the community as they try to help their extended relatives escape the violence in Ukraine.

As Marlie Salamatin started her day remotely at Weave, a tech company, she apologized to her team lead and explained that she and her husband were trying to help rescue family from Ukraine.

“I was really distracted, we were up all night trying to talk to family, trying to get them here, trying to get any information,” said Salamatin.

Read - Ukrainians in Utah watch, worry over invasion of their country

She was shocked that her request for some grace on this stressful day would turn into a flood of thousands of dollars in donations to help her and her family. Those donations from coworkers, many she’s never met before, but all who want to help.

Dallin Hunt, who also works at Weave, said during lunch he watched a video of a Ukrainian dad on Twitter who was saying goodbye to his wife and his daughter.

“It’s heartbreaking, you have kids of your own and try to imagine that scenario and thinking there’s nothing we can do,” said Hunt.

That’s why when he saw a message come over on Slack, a company messaging platform, asking for donations, he didn’t hesitate.

“This is a little thing but it’s at least something we can do to help someone involved,” said Hunt.

Read - LDS temple in Ukraine closed 'until further notice'

Salamatin's husband Igor grew up in Ukraine and has been in the states for six years. Marlie has other ties to Ukraine after serving an LDS mission there.

“I met so many incredible people, and my heart just really hurts, for the people I’ve met for the people I haven’t met,” said Salamatin.

Right now, Igor’s aunt, uncle, cousin, mom, dad and brother are all in the same car trying to cross the border into Moldova. Igor explains that right now they’re stressed and feeling helpless.

“I can’t go there and physically move them across the border,” he said.

Their plan was to get the family to Moldova and try to fly them here. But flights are suspended right now in Moldova so they’re going to have to get to Romania.

Igor says he’s worried if they don’t get out soon enough, his 50-year-old father could be drafted, which could also compromise the rest of his family leaving.

Read - Ukraine has a rich history and culture, despite assertions from Putin

“I have fear that if my dad gets drafted, that my mom and brother won’t be able to leave,” said Igor.

To cross the border as a minor, his brother would need permission from both parents, and if his dad gets drafted, his brother and mom won’t be allowed out. They would have needed a notarized permission slip from his father for his 15-year-old brother to leave, and they didn’t get one in time.

“We told them we wanted them to leave earlier but they were afraid if nothing happened, they would lose money and time, and it would be a waste,” said Marlie Salamatin.

Igor says he’s not surprised to see this invasion of his home country, but he is surprised at how quickly it’s escalating and how brutal it is.

“It’s hard, because now I know the difference, I know what freedom feels like. It’s just sad that someone is trying to take it away,” said Igor Salamatin.

Read - 'It's horrible;' Utah experts weigh in on Russian aggression

The family has a goal of reaching 20,000 dollars. Weave employees have already raised over 8,000 dollars in less than 24 hours.

If you would like to help them, you can Venmo Marlie, at Marlie-Salamatin. She is working to set up a GoFundMe, but it hasn’t been approved yet due to the high influx of GoFundMe’s related to Ukrainian aid.