DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Ukrainians living in the Miami Valley are watching their homeland under attack from 5,000 miles away.

Daryna Zaytseva and her husband CJ Ryan currently live in the Dayton area. The couple just spent last summer in Ukraine visiting family, and just in those few months everything has changed.

“Seeing that was very scary for me. Both me and my husband could not sleep all night,” Zaytseva said.

Zaytseva came to the U.S. from Ukraine in 2017 as a high school exchange student with the intention to learn how the country’s democracy works.

“Just be able to transparently process it and to be able to show my country that it’s possible,” Zaytseva said.

Zaytseva’s family lives in Mariupol, Ukraine. Her mother, an active volunteer on the frontlines, organized a protest in her city a day before Russia invaded.

“Who was one of the few people still going to the warzone in 2014, all these awful attacks had been happening,” Zaytseva said. “She has been under attack several times going to the warzone, helping soldiers.”

Zaytseva said her family had been expecting an attack. With their bags already packed days prior, they evacuated from Mariupol.

“At this point, it’s just a reckless driving for everyone in Ukraine to get somewhere safe, which used to be Western side of Ukraine. Right now, no where’s safe,” Zaytseva said.

She said it’s a scary feeling as her family flees when all she and her husband can do is send their support from Ohio to Ukraine.

“As being an American, I stand with Ukraine every single day, and I stand with my friends and family over there and I will continue to stand with Ukraine every single day,” Ryan said.

“We’re not as easy to be taken down as some people think,” Zaytseva said. “We’re ready to fight for our land. We’re ready to show that we’re not just there. We’re not a part of Russia, we’re not a part of USSR anymore.”

Zaytseva said while she waits for her family to reach safety, she’s going to work to educate people in Ohio about what is going on in her country and ways they can help.