Massachusetts man travels to Ukraine to help daughter and grandson escape Russian invasion

‘My only thought was to work through every issue and every problem that I would come across and to get to where my daughter and grandson were’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 14 March 2022 22:39 GMT
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US man goes to Ukraine to help daughter and grandson escape Russian invasion

A man from Massachusetts has travelled to Ukraine to help his daughter and grandson escape the Russian invasion.

“I did what any dad would do, I guess, in this situation,” William Hubbard told WCVB from the border between Ukraine and Slovakia.

His daughter, Aislinn Hubbard, gained national attention in 2018 when she was invited to study at a prestigious ballet school in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

Mr Hubbard is travelling with his daughter and his eight-month-old grandson. Ms Hubbard’s boyfriend, the baby’s father, cannot leave as Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 were banned from exiting the country soon after the invasion began.

Mr Hubbard and his wife Deborah tried to get their daughter and grandson out of Ukraine for weeks before the fighting started. The issue was that 8-month-old Seraphim was born at home and doesn’t have a birth certificate or a passport.

“In Ukraine, because of Covid, many women have chosen to have home births,” Mr Hubbard told WCVB. “And when you have a baby at home in Ukraine, the pathway to getting a birth certificate is much more difficult.”

Mr Hubbard tried to schedule a DNA test for Seraphim during an earlier visit to the country, but after he left, his daughter could feel the Russian Army coming closer.

“I was constantly hearing loud noises outside,” she said. “And the windows were shaking.”

Ms Hubbard, her boyfriend, and their child lived about 18 miles outside of Kyiv – about 300 miles from an international border – and they didn’t have a car.

Mr Hubbard chose to go back to Ukraine to help his daughter and her child travel out of the war zone.

He flew to the Polish capital of Warsaw via Istanbul, Turkey. From Warsaw, he boarded a train to southern Poland, from where he crossed the border into Ukraine on foot. He then hitched a ride to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv before taking a train to Kyiv.

“My only thought was to work through every issue and every problem that I would come across and to get to where my daughter and grandson were,” he told WCVB.

This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Press Association Images)

Mr Hubbard, his daughter, grandson, and four cats then began the long journey to leave Ukraine alongside hundreds of thousands of fellow refugees.

By Friday, they had made it to the Slovakian border. Seraphim still doesn’t have any paperwork but they’re still optimistic that they will get him across the border.

“That’s what dads do. They take care of their family,” Mr Hubbard said.

On 12 March, he wrote on the page for his GoFundMe fundraiser: “Aislinn, Seraphim and I all made it to the border of Ukraine and Slovakia. We are still in Ukraine but planning to cross the border as soon as possible into Slovakia. Everybody is safe and unharmed. Thank you all for your support.”

Poland struggles with waves of Ukraine refugees

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here.  If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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