DETROIT – A brother and sister who escaped Ukraine are now in Metro Detroit with their extended family.
“We were scared and at the same time happy that we’re going to go to America,” said nine year old Favilo Gallipoli. “It was still sad leaving our mom.”
That’s just an example of the rollercoaster of emotions Favilo Gallipoli and his seven-year-old sister Aurora Gallipoli experienced as they made their way to the Polish border.
Aurora doesn’t speak much English, but her brother said, “Actually, it was (Aurora’s) idea to escape. She was already dramatic. She said, ‘Mom, I don’t want to die. I want to go somewhere so we don’t need to be here.’ My mom sadly remained there but we just got here.”
The two walked 12 miles with their dad and others. At one point, they had to sleep overnight in a shelter.
“We just couldn’t complain because our dad was walking 20 kilometers and he had four backpacks on,” said Favilo Gallipoli.
The siblings are with their aunt and uncle here in Michigan, while their parents chose to stay behind.
“It’s a close family. We used to go to Ukraine every summer,” said Arthur Greene, the children’s uncle. “We have an apartment in that city in the Lviv and so Flavio and Aurora are very comfortable with us.”
“They perceived it as an adventure, and so that’s how we were trying to present it to them,” said Greene’s wife, Solomia Soroka.
The couple is grateful their niece and nephew made it to America safely, but it doesn’t make watching what is happening in Ukraine any easier.
“It’s rewarding, but it also makes us aware of any other child that is or was killed or is left there,” Soroka said. “So it’s just constant guilt right now.”
The Gallipolis children will start school in Michigan on Monday, March 21.