MILLERS FALLS, Mass. (WWLP) — A father from Western Massachusetts flew to Poland to bring his 10-year-old daughter from Ukraine back home with him. They landed in Boston Sunday night.
The dad and daughter met with NEWS10’s Springfield sister station at UMass Amherst on Monday. David Korpiewski and Mary are hitting the ground running, doing what it takes to get her settled and start her life here in the U.S.
Arriving at Logan Airport was the last leg of a long journey for Mary, who escaped Ukraine just one week ago. Her mother, Iryna, was in Vienna when the invasion started and went into the war zone to get Mary out. Their train rode through a city as it was being bombed by Russian Forces. Her father said she was only really able to take a backpack.
“My toys, my pencil case…” said Mary.
Korpiewski, who works at UMass Amherst, reunited with Mary and her mother in Warsaw, Poland last Monday, and said they spent the week together. “Your body still tells you you’re stressed,” he said. “But you’re not actually stressed, because the people you love are with you.”
With Ukrainians ineligible for refugee status in the U.S., Mary’s mother Iryna had to stay behind in Poland. Mary’s story is just one of over 2 million more from people in similar situations.
“They had a completely normal, civilized life,” Korpiewski said. “Now, everything is just gone. For example, Iryna has no idea if her apartment’s still there, no idea if her stuff is still there.”
For now, Mary is moving forward with a new life stateside, learning English and going to the grocery store. But considering the first place she had to go in Poland was KFC, there are a few things she’s looking forward to.
Dave: “She loves KFC.”
Dave: “And Pepsi.”
Mary: “Cola, ketchup…”
Dave: “Yeah, she loves ketchup.”
David hopes to enroll his daughter in school in the coming weeks, either close to his work or home.