As Russian troops attacked the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, JÃºlia PiseckÃ¡ had an important decision to make.
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With her family living just a town away from the plant, she felt it was too dangerous for her son, Hassan, to remain at home. But since her own mom, who lives with them, is too unwell to move, there was no way that the two of them could leave.
After much deliberation, JÃºlia made the necessary but heartbreaking decision to send her 11-year-old on a 600-mile journey to Slovakia alone. Once he arrived, nearby relatives would pick him up and take him into their home for as long as needed.
With a plastic bag, a passport, and contact info written on his hand, Hassan was put on a train that took him all the way to the border. There, he was greeted by friendly volunteers who gave him food and a place to get warm while he waited on his relatives to arrive.
And thanks to the contact info he had on him, they were able to get in touch with his relatives soon after Hassan arrived.
According to a post on Facebook, the Slovakian Interior Ministry, Roman Mikulec, said that Hassan “won everybody’s hearts with his smile, fearlessness and determination, worthy of a real hero.”
When JÃºlia was told that Hassan had made it to Slovakia, a wave of relief washed over her – choosing to send her son on a 600-mile journey alone was no doubt one of the hardest decisions she’s ever made, especially since she understands all too well the dangers of fleeing a country.
Years ago, the PiseckÃ¡ family was forced to abruptly leave their home in Syria. While doing so her husband, Hassan’s dad, didn’t make it.
“I am a widow and I have more children,” JÃºlia said. “I want to thank the Slovak customs and volunteers who took care of my son and helped him cross the border. I am grateful you have saved my child’s life.”
With the threat of bombings from Russia ever increasing, nearly two weeks after Hassan made it to Slovakia, JÃºlia and her mom decided that trying to escape would be better than nothing. With their little dog in tow, they hopped on a train that was jam-packed with other refugees.
“The train ride was very difficult,” JÃºlia said. “Hundreds were crammed in a single car. But we had to escape so our family could be back together.”
Although each member of the PiseckÃ¡ family had to go on their own difficult journeys in order to find safety, it was all worth it for the moment that they were finally reunited! Needless to say, there were lots of hugs, smiles and, no doubt, tears!
“The eldest brother is only 20 years old, but he is the head of the family,” the Ukrainian police wrote on Facebook. “Arranging the necessary documents, permits, looking for schools, accommodation… They lost everything again, but this time the war took no one. They’re together and that’s all that matters.”
Don’t forget to share Hassan and his family’s harrowing story with a friend.
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