JAMESTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Millions of Ukrainians have now escaped their country as Russia’s war against Ukraine rages on.

Many hope to return as soon as the war is over so they’re staying in nearby countries, but one Ukrainian family is finding help from friends in Rhode Island.

Sasha Pinchuk, 10, made sure he fit his brown belt in just the two bags his family was able to bring them when fleeing Ukraine.

Continuing his martial arts here in Jamestown adds just a touch of normalcy to distract from the terrors a world away from where his father is currently fighting for their freedom.

When 12 News was interviewing the family, Sasha’s older sister Yana said they had just gotten word their coastal city of Odessa was attacked.

“It was very close to our house,” Sasha said. “It’s very painful to know all these people and just realize that they’re dead.”

Yana was in medical school in Kharkiv when the war began in late February.

“They bombed the civilian people, they bombed the hospitals from the first day,” Yana said.

About 80% of her university buildings are gone, but they’re still learning virtually — another show of the Ukrainians’ resiliency.

“University just moved our teachers for a safe place and they were able to give a lot of information for us and still teach us,” Yana said.

Yana, her mother, and even Sasha want to get jobs in Rhode Island but their tourist visa won’t allow them to.

“Pay for our food, pay for our apartments maybe, and keep a normal life,” Yana said.

Right now, they’re relying on the charity of others to pay for their apartment. Sasha’s karate classes are free and the support of people like Erik Brine is key.

Brine is friends with Sasha and Yana’s father. They studied together at the Newport Naval War College and the family had lived in Rhode Island during that time.

“There’s a small amount of U.S. students that get to participate with the International Class. We travel together, we get to spend a lot of time together,” Brine said.

That’s why they chose to temporarily relocate to the United States while millions of others are staying in Europe.

“They drove through Moldova to Romania and spent three weeks with another one of my classmates in Constanta, Romania,” Brine said.

Brine is now pushing lawmakers to speed up the temporary protected status of which this family is eligible, so they can work.

“To have them here, but not any benefits available to them. They don’t have medical benefits,” Brine said.

The family also met with Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, which serves as a liaison for resources to newcomers, but they said they haven’t received guidance or funding yet from the federal government for Ukrainian arrivals.

“At this point, I think there’s recognition by the government that there are some Ukrainians coming in, so my hope is that they get this guidance out sooner rather than later,” Kathy Cloutier said.

The biggest help they need right now is in the form of monetary donations. A GoFundMe set up for the family is still thousands of dollars shy of their goal.