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Ukrainian teenager escapes war, finds refuge in Wisconsin

Ukrainian teenager escapes war to live in Kenosha
Posted at 8:48 AM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 10:59:32-04

KENOSHA, Wisc. — It took several weeks, but a Ukrainian teenager who escaped war has found refuge with his godmother in Kenosha.

Arsenii Holubov, 14, is now in the care of Iryna Faulk, who moved to Kenosha from Ukraine back in 2005.

Arsenii said he fled his home in February with only his identification documents and the clothes on his back.

"It is terrible," Arsenii said. "First days were really scary."

Arsenii was born and raised in Chernihiv, a city not far from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Chernihiv has been under constant attack from Russian forces.

"I was at home. Mom get up me at 5 o'clock and say, 'War has started. Get up and pick up your clothes,'" Arsenii said.

They raced to an underground bunker, where they stayed with about 20 other people for at least 14 days. Arsenii said he could still hear the bombs inside the bunker, and it scared him.

His family then decided to escape to Poland. The drive to Warsaw took three days.

The very next day, Arsenii's mother put him on a flight to the U.S. alone. His mother and older brother are staying back to help in Ukraine.

Arsenii said he hugged his family and said goodbye. He says his brother gave him a bracelet to wear and think about them.

"I was very sad that I had to do it," he said.

Arsenii arrived at O'Hare International Airport outside Chicago last Friday. On Monday, he started classes at Bradford High School in Kenosha.

Faulk says she hopes to get her godson involved in tennis, swimming, summer camp and Krav Maga. She says they constantly FaceTime with his mother, whom Faulk says is very brave.

"She's a hero, definitely," Faulk said. "Ukrainian women are strong women."

They all hope they can go back to Ukraine and be together one day.

This story was originally published by Stephanie Haines on Scripps station TMJ4 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.