By Ted Scouten
WESTON, Florida (WFOR) — It’s a little bit of normal as 9-year-old Ellis and 7-year-old Mila register for school in Weston. This comes after a terrifying month for the Sibiryakova family, who had to flee Ukraine. “One day, we see out our window so many helicopters, ‘boom, boom, boom.’ It’s like film. We can’t believe what’s happen,” said mom Anastasia Sibiryakova.
When bombs began falling over the airport near their home outside Kyiv, Anastasia and her husband Sergey knew they had to get their three girls out of Ukraine.
“They were all afraid and I understood this war is not going to be fast as everybody think. I had to take them to a safe place,” said the kids’ father Sergey.
The family left with just one suitcase.
“We have 15 minutes, only 15 minutes. I take my kids, my husband and one bag and we go away,” recalls Anastasia.
Hearing air raid sirens blaring, the family spent days in bomb shelters before making their way to Hungary. The last they saw of their home, the windows were blown out and the neighboring building was on fire.
They signed up online for help in the U.S. at the same time the Watsteins were opening the doors of their home in Weston for a Ukrainian family. The match was made.
“I step first step and Adam open the door and say, ‘My house is your house,’” said Anastasia, crying.
Anastasia and the family are grateful as they watch the kids settling in. For the Watsteins, their family of five is now a family of 10.
“We moved furniture around to our guest rooms and added different pieces to accommodate a family of five. I made my traditional matzo ball soup to welcome them,” said Angelina Watstein.
The community came to the rescue too, providing food and clothes. At Temple B’nai Aviv, where Adam Watstein is the rabbi, businesses donated mattresses and bedding for those who needs it down the road.
“You learn more about yourself and the capacity of the human heart,” said Adam. “And in a world where divisiveness and polarization and negativity seem to be the norm, it’s nice to feel positive and heartwarming about something, and this is it.”
Anastasia and Sergey know there’s a long road ahead, but look forward to better days.
“Our places may be destroyed, but never our trust in a free and independent life will end. And my children will forever remember this war and say, ‘Never again!’” Sergey said.
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