Indianapolis News and Headlines


Man with Indiana ties helping Ukrainian refugees at Polish hostel

Posted at 5:51 PM, Apr 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-13 18:52:53-04

INDIANAPOLIS — We've seen the violence in Ukraine during the Russian invasion. The war is forcing many Ukrainians to flee their country.

Despite all of the tragedy, there are signs of unity.

People from Poland, including a former Center Grove exchange student, are stepping up to help Ukrainian refugees.

Eric Levin and his wife Kamila Grabka-Levin, have turned what used to be a center for youth education in Poland into a hostel to house 72 Ukrainian refugees.

He said it was something he felt he needed to do.

"They all had normal lives, everyone had a home, families, jobs," Levin said. "Now they are here and they had to leave everything."

His wife said they knew the Ukrainians needed help.

"We had no doubt that we needed to help these people," Grabka-Levin said. "That there would be refugees who would come to Poland as our neighbors, as our friends. It's our duty to help them."

Kamila is teaching refugee children how to speak Polish so they are able to be immersed in the community.

Ukrainian children learning Polish

Yulia Szyabiieva is a Ukrainian refugee and described the moment her family decided to flee the county.

"When the war started, and the bombs began to fall, we had to leave our home," Szyabiieva said. "We waited until the last minute to leave. We were hoping we could stay. But after the bomb fell and demolished my child's school — that was the moment we decided to run."

Valentina Szvedova, also a refugee staying at the hostel, echoed her sentiments, adding she left because she was scared for her child's safety.

“Sirens would go off every hour and we would have to go hide in the basement and spend a lot of time in the secure place," Szvedova said. "We couldn’t handle it anymore and had to make the decision to leave."

Levin said most of the refugees now have access to healthcare, banks and schools.