A family with ties to Oakland University successfully escapes Ukraine

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Posted at 6:01 AM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 14:51:10-04

(WXYZ) — A woman and her family are safe in Detroit this morning after making the long trek from Western Ukraine to the Midwest.

Khrystyna Shchubelka says she and her growing family were living a nice life in Western Ukraine until about a week ago.

“First was kind of like a denial stage, like is this really happening,” she said.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine made Khrystyna and her husband nervous.

They made the swift decision to leave the country with their 6-month-old son but feared they wouldn't make it over altogether.

“We already talked about that like if they’re going to stop me, you and baby are going to go to Europe and I'm going to stay here,” the husband Shibelka said.

Shibelka said they then ditched their car and walked towards the Slovakian Border.

That's when Oakland University Professor Taras Oleksyk came in. With the help of his students, he was able to raise $3000 thousand to get Khrystyna, her husband, and their 6-month-old baby on a flight from the Czech Republic to Paris and then to Detroit.

“We're not the heroes in this story, the heroes are out there right now," Oleksyk said. "They’re fighting and they’re trying to stop this so it doesn't happen to the rest of the world.”

Khrystyna says she knows she can't go home for a while. She says it hurts to know her family and friends are still in danger.

“We are not relieved at all because you cannot be relieved when your country is being bombed," she said.