Madison doctor shares her family’s harrowing story of fleeing Ukraine

Families in Ukraine are deciding between staying in their homes or leaving the cities and country they call home.
Updated: Mar. 1, 2022 at 10:10 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The war in Ukraine continues to wage on as Russian troops continue making their way through the country, while families decide on staying in their homes or leaving the cities and country they call home.

That decision strikes a chord with a doctor and professor right here in Madison.

“We woke them up and said we are really worried they will close the air space, we think you should drive to Polish border,” said Dr. Nataliya Uboha, a professor at the UW Carbone Cancer Center.

She called her sister Ulyana Khaba and her sister’s husband Taras Khaba late Wednesday night. The two were supposed to reunite with their two children and the sister’s parents at Natalyia’s home in Madison. The call alerted them to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which started with bombings.

It meant they would need to drive out—a daunting task, made more challenging by Russian cyberattacks shutting down border checkpoints.

“It was hard because me and my husband were up all night watching webcams from Shehyni, which is the border between Poland and Ukraine, and you can watch the webcams through google,” said Uboha.

The Khabas made their way through Slovakia to Vienna, Austria from Poland. It is where they were finally able to get on a plane and make it to family in Madison by Saturday night.

“I can’t tell you the relief we had when we knew they were in a nato country,” said Uboha.

Now, the entire family is trying to find ways to help the people still there, including extended family and friends.

“We are really trying to organize with the Ukrainian community here and trying to figure out how best we can channel resources and support for Ukraine,” said Uboha.

She says the best option she has found so far is the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee, which she is working to raise awareness for to support those back home. She says she wants to help the people in the country; people she knows may choose to stay.

“You know my cousin is there and he says he is going to protect our city until the end,” said Uboha. “It’s... It’s hard; it’s not an easy decision to leave.”

Copyright 2022 WMTV. All rights reserved.