Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Couple Relieved to Have Escaped Ukraine, Now Living in Morgan Hill

NBC Universal, Inc.

A Ukrainian couple fled their homeland and are now living with their daughter in the South Bay. 

Olena Hula and her husband Anatolii, now living in Morgan Hill, are happy to be safe after escaping from Ukraine.

“When they were on the move, I could not even breathe,” said daughter Oksana Lapii. “I was so afraid because I knew how dangerous it was.” 

They only speak Ukrainian – so their daughter Lapii translated. 

She says her parents wouldn’t leave but when the bombs started falling closer to their town of Chernihiv, north of Kyiv, they decided to get out. 

For three weeks – it was too dangerous, and they had to shelter. 

“Military guys were not letting them out because they were saying it was not safe,” said Oksana. 

They had to build up their gas rations – just to fill up the car. 

“The most difficult part was to decide to leave, because there were tragic cases during those three weeks of people trying to leave, the Russians were killing them. They were shooting civilians,” said Lapii.

On the 14th, they left, driving past cities in ruin. Through forests on dirt roads to evade Russian forces. It took three grueling days to reach the border. 

One night – they stayed in a small village – in the only house left standing. 

“Because it was so quiet, it was a village with nothing, all you could hear is bombing or shooting, bombing or shooting and nothing else,” said Lapii. 

Last week, they made it to Romania and flew to the Bay Area. 

“When they finally arrived, it was like some dreams came through,” said Lapii.

This week, they learned their next door neighbors’ house was bombed.

They constantly worry for them and Olena's parents, who refuse to leave. 

Their new neighbors in Morgan Hill have put up the Ukrainian flag on their homes in support. 

They hope the world won’t forget what is going on, and one day, to go back home. 

“We have cathedrals and churches in our town that are one thousand years old, that survived the second World War and right now, Russians are bombing all of this. We’ll never forget this or forgive,” said Lapii. “Ukraine will win and we will be free and keep living our lives the way we want and not the way the Russians want us to.”

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