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'The city is full': Grafton High School graduates help Ukrainian refugees in Poland

Posted at 10:24 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 23:24:18-04

GRAFTON, Wis. — As the Ukraine and Russia tensions continue, millions of Ukrainians are now left without a home.

According to the United Nations, about 3 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion on February 24.

Majority of Ukrainians fled to neighboring Poland.

Greg and Shannon Listopad at a protest in Warsaw, Poland
Greg and Shannon Listopad at a protest in Warsaw, Poland

"Roughly one in five people in Warsaw Poland is a refugee at this point," Greg Listopad said. "It's getting tight. The city is full."

Greg and Shannon Listopad live in Warsaw, Poland and joined TMJ4's Ubah Ali on Zoom from their two bedroom apartment.

The two Grafton High School graduates say the last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind.

"It's been a busy couple of weeks definitely. That's an understatement," they both laughed.

Shannon left Wisconsin and made her way to Poland and landed a job at Reuters as a marker researcher.

Greg was born in Dnipro, Ukraine. His family eventually immigrated to America specifically Wisconsin 23 years ago for a chance at a better life.

"We are feeling like we are almost a bridge between his family in the U.S and his family in Ukraine," Shannon said.

Greg Listopad with his family who fled Ukraine
Greg Listopad with his family who fled Ukraine

Now, Greg is providing that sense of belonging and peace to the millions of Ukrainians who are calling Poland home including his cousin and her two children.

"We are working with some local NGO's (Non-Governmental Organization) helping them with translating," Greg said.

Greg said his cousin Oksana reached out to him when Russia began bombing Ukraine looking for a safe place.

When we asked how she is doing after her long journey to Poland, he said she's trying her best to acclimate.

He said she's putting on a smile for her boys, so they don't start to panic. But, she's worried for her husband who had to stay behind to fight.

Through it all, what's shocked Greg and Shannon the most is the kindness of the Polish people.

"All of the city busses have Ukrainian flags on them and they are also free for Ukrainians to ride," Shannon said.

Beyond that, they say train stations have been turned to welcome center or a triage space for those coming into Poland.

While Ukrainians have found a safe place to call home, Greg said they only want one thing

"Just to be able to go home relatively soon," Greg said.

"I mean that's really what they want," Shannon added.

Their greatest hope is to call Ukraine home once again.

Both Greg and Shannon urge anyone in Wisconsin or around the world to donate what they can.

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