New Orleans family stuck in Poland after rescuing mother and grandmother from Ukraine

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – A New Orleans couple, now living in Biloxi, traveled thousands of miles to bring their aging mother back to the United States from Ukraine, but are stuck in Poland waiting for her green card .

Bruce and Antonina Godfrey made the trip to rescue Hanna Khmyz, 80, Antonina’s mother, from her hometown of Khmelnytskyi as the Russian invasion of the country continues. Khmyz lived with the sound of constant air raid sirens.

“She just got to where she was ignoring them, and after a while it wore her out,” Bruce Godfrey said. “We just felt we had to come in and get her out ourselves.”

Antonina, who is from Ukraine, called her friends from over three decades. She managed to convince one of them to drive her mother to the Polish border.

“Those friends of hers from 30 years ago brought mom to the border,” Bruce Godfrey said. “They could have easily crossed the border and come with us. They took Mom to the border, turned around, and went straight back to their hometown. For me, it’s just amazing.

A sigh of relief: Hanna has finally left Ukraine.

“She’s ready to come back,” Antonina Godfrey said. “She understands that she has to be here because it’s war, but she wants to go home. It’s his whole life. She said, “It’s my whole life, it’s my savings, that’s all.”

They returned to Warsaw, the capital of Poland and the location of the American Embassy. Fortunately, last summer they applied for a green card for Hanna.

But they are stuck in a loop. Bruce went to the embassy and stood in line, was told he had to come back with an appointment and made one for the next day.

When he returned, the embassy staff told him that he had chosen the wrong type of appointment.

“I really just want direction. I really want a face-to-face meeting to tell me what to do,” he said. “If I have to do 100 steps, tell me what’s number one, number two, and I’ll start doing them.”

“We’re just a little stuck right now.”

They are hoping someone will see their story and help them quickly get the green card, which Bruce says is currently at the National Visa Center here in the United States.

He said he made an appointment, but it’s only April 7.

Hanna’s story is just one of many as nearly two million Ukrainians flee their country, some with nothing but the clothes they wear.

“It’s people’s lives. You put your whole life into something and you have to go,” Antonina Godfrey said.

“I liken it a bit to Katrina, but after Katrina we knew it was going to be okay eventually. These people don’t know right now,” Bruce Godfrey said. “Watching TV is one thing, watching these women and children here is totally another thing.”

Despite their current situation, the Godfreys said they were happy to have Hanna and to know that she was safe from war.

“I literally can’t wait to see her and hug her since I haven’t seen her for so many years,” her granddaughter Anna Kushnir said. “I want her to be with me, I want to be with her. She’s taken care of me since I was a baby.

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