‘I've Never Cried So Much in My Life': Mexican Woman Flees Ukraine with Family

Rossano moved to Ukraine with him in early 2021, and all was well until what was feared happened

A picture of Ivette Rossano her husband, Mykhailo Naumov and their stepson as they try to flee Ukraine.
Courtesy of family

Russian invasions in Ukraine continue and thousands of people are trying to flee, but many have failed.

Telemundo 20 spoke with a Mexican woman who managed to escape the chaos and disaster in Ukraine and talks about the difficult times she and her husband lived in that attempt to save their lives.

"I have never cried so much in my life as I have in the six days I have been in Ukraine since the invasion began," said Ivette Rossano, who still has trouble sleeping, recalling the start of the war.

"All the sounds still scare me. I hear an ambulance or a normal patrol car and my heart stops because I feel like it's an air raid alert," Rossano said.

Rossano was living in Chihuahua, Mexico, when in 2018, through one of her friends, she met her now-husband, Mykhailo Naumov, who is Australian and Ukrainian.

At first, it was long-distance love. She is from Mexico, and he is in Ukraine.

"Then he travels to Mexico and in November 2020 we got married," she recalled.

Rossano moved to Ukraine with him in early 2021, and all was well until what was feared happened. In February, Russia began attacking Ukraine, and the first explosions took place in the capital Kyiv, right where Rossano lived with her husband.

"About 5:10 a.m. we started hearing the first detonations," recalled Rossano, who at first thought it was a gas tank. "About 20 minutes later they tell us we were being invaded by Russia."

Then the rumblings were heard more and more.

"It's a situation of constant stress. You're hearing sirens, planes, detonations all the time," Rossano said.

Rossano, her husband and one of his children from his previous relationship, immediately fled their home to take refuge in a subway station, which was set up as a shelter, and as soon as she could, Ivette contacted her family in Mexico.

"I told them before you see it on the news, this is happening, we're fine," Rossano said.

The shelling continued, so they decided to flee the shelter towards the Romanian border.

"I felt like I was in a Mario Bros. world game, where you have to go through increasingly difficult tests as you move on because, like us, there were thousands of people who wanted to get out. Desperate," Rossano said.

To escape, they rented a car.

"You advanced more or less 80 kilometers (49 miles) per day, then you run out of gas, but there is no gas and when you find a gas station that has gas, you have to stand in line for three or four hours to get the maximum allowed that is 20 liters (5 gallons)."

There was a lot of desperation.

"I saw people on the road walking, leaving the city, pushing their bags or pushing strollers," Rossano said.

During the journey, she ran into a stranger who desperately asked them to take a baby, who was only two weeks old. It hurts Rossano not to have been able to help them.

"It breaks your heart, but you have to focus. This is like the instructions when you're on a plane and they tell you that if you want to help someone, you have to help yourself first," Rossano said.

Rossano, Naumov and his son spent six days on the road.

"We were in a car we rented, and in fact, that vehicle was abandoned on the road. We still don't know what's going to happen to that agency vehicle, we're probably going to have to pay for it," Rossano said.

Fortunately, after almost a week of fighting, they managed to reach the Romanian border. There, Mexican embassy personnel were waiting for them and were able to get them a humanitarian flight to Mexico City. Once they arrived in Mexico, they went to Rossano's hometown of Chihuahua.

"We think in a couple of months, we want to go back to our house [in Ukraine]," Rossano said.

Ivette adds that for her husband and stepson, it is very difficult to stay in Mexico, not only because of the language, but also because they left their loved ones in Ukraine, and what they most long for is to be able to hug them again, but they feel lucky to have been able to escape.

This story was originally reported by NBC 7's sister station, Telemundo 20. To read the article, click here.

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