In order to join his girlfriend and his children stranded in Ukraine because of the war, Mike Farrell traveled in seven days, more than 5400 kilometers. Once there, the small blended family, safe and sound, returned to the Netherlands.
Impossible for Mike Farrell, 60, to leave his girlfriend and children stranded in Ukraine while the war has been raging for more than a month. To help them, the man from County Durham in England, did not hesitate to cross the more than 5400 kilometers separating them.
There, Svetlana Yanyk, 45, and her children, a 12-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter, were waiting for him. An epic round trip for the blended family…
save a family
It’s only been 18 months since Mike and Svetlana met. At that time, Mike was finishing in Ukraine, a trip through Europe. A driving instructor, the man immediately fell madly in love with Svetlana and has since maintained a long-distance relationship. When the war broke out, for Mike, it was impossible to leave her and her children, under the threat of raids and assaults “I immediately told Svetlana that I was going to come and take her to the Kingdom United,” he told the English newspaper Mirror. “I started telling my students that they would not have class the following week. I love this woman and I just wanted to save her.” If Mike does not see himself “as a hero”, it was only a question of “saving a family”, his own moreover.
A chaotic return from Ukraine
Reflecting on his time in Ukraine, Mike told the BBC that the air raid sirens were on every night in town, prompting people to gather in the basements. “I stayed there for two nights, one of ‘I spent six hours in the basement,’ he reported. When he finds Svetlana and her children, his daughter is “scared” and she is not the only one to carry this anguish in her eyes. After this special reunion, Mike, Svetlana and their children head to the Netherlands. Mike noted, “I thought I could just drive over there and they would let me through. That we would walk into England and then they would start sorting things out.” If Mike has joined the United Kingdom, Svetlana and her children, who have made all the necessary arrangements, are still waiting at the hotel for them to be given a visa to enter England.
Millions on the run
If Svetlana and her children were able to count on Mike, they are far from being alone in fleeing Ukraine. The UN estimates more than 3 million people have left the country, and thinks the total could rise to more than 4 million before it is fully resolved. To help refugees, the UK has launched a “Homes for Ukraine” programme, where people can volunteer to host a refugee in their home or in an empty property for at least six months. Although many Brits have expressed their enthusiasm for this project, many questions still remain unanswered about how the program works.