Detroit native helps family escape war in Ukraine: ‘You stand here and see the sadness’

Man getting support from Ukrainian Cultural Center in Warren

President Joe Biden will join other NATO leaders in Brussels this week to address efforts to end the war in Ukraine. The trip comes amid concerns that a desperate Vladimir Putin may resort to more severe tactics, like the use of chemical weapons. Despite all the danger, some Metro Detroit residents continue to travel to Ukraine and neighboring countries to try and help. John Zaryckyj was born and raised in Detroit. He’s in Poland right now. His parents are from Ukraine and he has many family members still in the country. He said he felt he had to do something, so he left to help.

DETROIT – President Joe Biden will join other NATO leaders in Brussels this week to address efforts to end the war in Ukraine.

The trip comes amid concerns that a desperate Vladimir Putin may resort to more severe tactics, like the use of chemical weapons. Despite all the danger, some Metro Detroit residents continue to travel to Ukraine and neighboring countries to try and help.

John Zaryckyj was born and raised in Detroit. He’s in Poland right now. His parents are from Ukraine and he has many family members still in the country. He said he felt he had to do something, so he left to help.

“You stand here and see the sadness of the people that are walking across. The little girls crying, the little boys crying -- and just holding their heads down,” Zaryckyj said.

He is in Poland at the Ukraine border and working to get his family out of Ukraine.

“What I see at the border I’ll never forget in my life. I mean, the tears from the people coming over that’ll stick with me forever,” Zaryckyj said.

Zaryckyj got one cousin out along with another cousin and her 10-year-old child. But they brought two others that desperately needed his help.

“Also with them, that came along, another woman and her child which I’m trying to help as well but this is becoming an increasingly hard situation to deal with,” Zaryckyj said.

One of his cousins is not coming along with him.

“I asked my one cousin, ‘Why aren’t you -- why aren’t you coming?’ She’s a female. Well, her brother had to go fight, which is also my cousin, and they’re about to take the son and she says. ‘I need to be here so that when they die I can bury them.’ She says that’s all she has left is her son and her brother and because they’re off to fight she’s gonna have to bury them when they die. There’s nobody to bury them,” Zaryckyj said.

Zaryckyj is working to get his family across the border and finding them temporary places to stay in Poland. He said he’s working to get them visas. He said he’s getting support from the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Warren.

He said the people in Poland are helping people flee from Ukraine and he is very grateful for that.


About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.