Ukrainian woman with Sioux Falls ties explains why she’s staying in Ukraine

A family in Western Ukraine could have fled to safety but chose to stay. They explain why these put themselves in danger and who they hope to support.
Published: Mar. 6, 2022 at 11:02 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Tanya Dumansky Garkun lives in Khmelnytskyi, in western Ukraine, but has a very special tie to Sioux Falls.

Garkun is a relative of the Dumansky family in Sioux Falls. The Dumanskys moved from Ukraine decades ago to begin a new life, thanks to the sponsorship of Sioux Falls First Church. Back then it was known as the First Assembly of God.

Through the years the extended family in Ukraine and Sioux Falls shared their lives through e-mails, texts, and visits. Despite the miles between them, the bond is strong.

When Ukrainians began to flee for their safety, Garkun and her family decided to stay in Ukraine and help others. The help is based at Light to the World Church in Khmelnytskyi. Refugees stay in the church where the Garkun family attends and teaches. Church members take home refugees when the church fills up.

Regina (Dumansky) Brunz in Sioux Falls, is arranging fundraisers to help provide food, clothing, and shelter for those her Ukrainian family is helping.

“They’re providing bedding, shelter, food, clothing. And so they’re providing bedding, shelter, food, clothing, water, all the basic necessities for people who have left and have fled the east side of Ukraine in Kiev and are trying to get to the border,” said Brunz.

Garkun says although the bombings have not directly hit their city, which is about the same size as Sioux Falls, they do feel the effects of the war. Life-saving medicine is non-existent. Food staples are dwindling. People who live in their community have lost loved ones who went to fight against Russia’s aggression.

While the world watches, Garkun says the fight in Ukraine is seen as a battle of dark and light.

“Can you imagine this small country Ukraine standing between evil and the Western world?” said Garkun. “And America we are fighting for you. We are fighting for Europe.”

Donations for the Light to the World Church and their humanitarian efforts for refugees can be made through two Sioux Falls locations:

1. House of God Church (Sioux Falls Ukrainian congregation) Give to “Ukraine” or mail to 3205 S Six Mile Road, SF SD 57110 memo “Light To The World” church

2. Sioux Falls First (local congregation that sponsored the first Ukrainian family - Dumanskys - to ever move to Sioux Falls) “Ukraine Fund” or mail to 6300 W 41st St, SF SD 57106 memo “Light To The World” church.

See more stories on the Dumansky/Garkun family

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