Mid-Michigan couple returns after helping Ukrainian refugees in Poland
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A couple from Lainsburg recently returned from Poland after helping Ukrainian refugees.
Cynthia and Phillip Knapp have always had a knack for adventure. Cynthia could usually find adventure in her career as an Emergency Room Physician and Phillip worked for years in construction. When retirement neared the couple decided to embark on another adventure.
For five years, the Knapps lived in Saudi Arabia. Cynthia worked at Saudi Aramco. Phillip found himself enjoying his retirement over seas. However, it was a trip to Slovakia that changed their outlook forever.
“We were living in Saudi Arabia and we went to Slovakia and we were standing on a train platform and we looked and there was a plaque on the wall,” said Cynthia.
The Knapps were looking at a memorial for Jewish people taken to Auschwitz by Nazis during World War II. It was in that moment that they reflected on who they wanted to do be.
“Are we the type of people that do something about this or are we the type of people that would just watch as those trains went down to the concentration camp?” Cynthia asked. “And we decided we would do something.”
When Russia invaded and news soon broke out of war in Ukraine, while the world watched, the Knapps flew to Poland. The couple worked with the group Poland Welcomes. Poland Welcomes has 6 facilities -- helping 1,100 women and children fleeing Ukraine.
They stopped in the Polish city of Boratyn. During their time in Poland the two helped build a daycare center for women and children. It was a lot of hard work and at time it was scary.
Cynthia and Phillip said they often heard and felt bombs going off in the distance. Other times, they saw things that were heartbreaking.
“One teenage kid, he had been running through fields and the Russians were firing at him and it was just so strange to look at him and realize that he was this normal teenage boy,” said Cynthia.
“Like any teenager you’d see walking down the street in Lansing,” said Phillip.
There were other things that gave them hope, including lines of trucks waiting to go into Ukraine. The Knapps didn’t cross the border into Ukraine this time, but expect to in the fall.
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