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American flies to Poland, helps Ukrainian relatives escape

(NewsNation) — Before the war, Philadelphia businessman Gary Wasserson had no idea he had relatives in Ukraine.

But when he learned that he had seven cousins there who needed help, Wasserson quickly took action. Despite not even knowing Ukrainian, he hopped on a plane to Poland and helped his newfound family escape.

Wasserson was so moved by what he saw in Ukraine, calling the situation “heartbreaking,” that he is now helping other Ukrainians flee the fighting ravaging their homeland since Russian troops invaded three weeks ago.

Speaking to NewsNation’s “Morning in America” Thursday, Wasserson said he’s averaged under four hours of sleep a night for the last nine days.

When heading to Ukraine, Wasserson said he never thought about the potential danger he might face.

He just concentrated on persuading his cousins to go

“It took me three and a half days to convince them to leave the country,” Wasserson said.

Sunday morning, Wasserson had a Zoom call with his cousins. That night, he was on a plane, and spent Monday organizing everything he needed to help them. On Tuesday morning, Wasserson was finally able to meet his cousins at the border.

One of Wasserson’s cousins, who translated the Zoom call for him, is still in Ukraine with his mother, as men ages 18 to 60 are not allowed to leave the country. A “true patriot,” Wasserson said of his cousin who stayed back to help fight.

“His mom is a dentist and she is staying back to be able to provide health care to those that are injured,” Wasserson said.

Through his time overseas, Wasserson said he learned that the Ukrainian people are a “stubborn, proud people.”

“I have never seen pride like I’ve seen in Ukraine,” Wasserson said. “It is heartwarming to see a country — and by the way, the same with Poland — that has no divide, a country that has a singular purpose of people that are 100% in sync with each other to take care of this humanitarian crisis on both sides of the border.”

They are so proud, in fact, that sometimes, when Wasserson asked them what they needed, he could “never get a straight answer.”

“The pride is so strong that they don’t want charity,” he said.

Wasserson’s cousins are now in Krakow, Poland, in a “beautiful” facility after being in a hotel for the first two days.

“I’m actually starting to see smiles,” Wasserson said. “It’s a very rewarding experience.”

At the Medyka border, Wasserson met a number of people he called “angels,” the kinds of humanitarians who were giving almost everything they had to help others.

“These are people that when you give them $1, they’re spending $1.10 to get to those who are affected and need help,” he said. “They are selfless. I mean, I met a couple where I had to yell at them and say, ‘Stop spending all your own money. You’re going to go bankrupt. I will give you what you need.'”

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