Their sister wants to leave Ukraine; their dad Arnie Fielkow is in Europe to help

The Fielkows adopted two girls from Ukraine in 2007
Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 7:04 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine continues New Orleanian and former city councilman Arnie Fielkow is in Europe trying to get a sibling of his adopted daughters out of the war-ravaged country.

“My two daughters as I think everyone knows are from Ukraine and a year ago they found their two sisters in Ukraine itself and for the last year they’ve been bounding and forming a family, relationship and really it was only up until a few days ago, at least one of the sisters made the decision that they would like to evacuate,” said Fielkow.

In 2007, Fielkow and his wife adopted two girls Yana and Svetlana from Ukraine. Later they would learn the girls had two older sisters.

Fielkow is in Slovakia which has a border with Ukraine where he plans to meet his daughters’ 20-something-year-old sister and her kids.

“We have been working for the last week trying to get them out of the Ukraine through Slovakia, through the Slovakia border, and then on to the capital city of Bratislava where we’ve set them up with an apartment and medical care,” said Fielkow. “This sister is eight months pregnant, so there’s probably a strong likelihood she’s going to deliver here in Slovakia.”

He said her husband like all young Ukrainian men are not allowed to leave the country because they are needed to fight the Russians.

“There’s a lot of moving parts in the next 24 hours, but if all goes well, I’m going to have a chance to meet them in Bratislava in a couple of days before returning to the United States,” said Fielkow.

FOX 8 asked Fielkow what it means to his daughters to know their older sister is almost out of Ukraine.

“Yes, they’re very, you know, very excited. As I said there’s a lot of mixed emotions here because the hope was in a better situation is we’d be traveling to the Ukraine as a family and they would, you know, meet for the first time in years and years and unfortunately that’s not the way it’s going to happen,” he said.

They have other plans, too.

“We are working on a U.S. visa. We would love for her to come to New Orleans with her two kids and her third child,” said Fielkow.

Fielkow says they stand ready to help the eldest of the four siblings if and when she decides she wants out of Ukraine.

“It’s the older of the four sisters and she has made the decision that for right now she does not want to evacuate,” he said.

Many Ukrainians are fleeing their homeland at the Poland border crossing.

Before making it to Slovakia Fielkow was on a mission to Poland organized by the National Jewish Federation movement.

“It’s heartbreaking, when we were on the border with Poland, just seeing the people coming across, you know, a lot of these folks picked up with nothing,” said Fielkow.

Still, out of the painful scenes at the border there was an opportunity for a little joy after Fielkow met a family with kids.

“When I arrived in Warsaw and I went to the train station I met a family and I had some Saints caps and that I was able to hand out to them, knit caps. And they were so excited, they don’t have any idea what it is they’re wearing but they were so excited just to be able to get something warm, so we have some new Who Dat fans in Warsaw, Poland right now,” he said with a chuckle.

But on a more serious note, Fielkow said Americans should not tire of hearing about the war as Ukraine fights to remain independent.

“Ukraine is an innocent country here that’s simply trying to survive, and I would just hope that all of us in New Orleans and all of us throughout the United States, you know, we don’t let this go on to another news cycle and another news story, the people of Ukraine really need our help,” he said.

And he said the U.S. must continue helping Ukraine’s military.

“I think we should be doing everything short of, you know, putting American soldiers on the ground in Ukraine or in the air,” he said.

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