Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kiev, Ukraine: Pavlo & Pawlina - April 2015

"допоможіть! допоможіть!"

It was a foggy spring morning when eight-year-old Pawlina wandered the roadside leading her family cow with a rope to graze the dew-covered grass. She was caught up in day dream when she accidentally lost hold of the rope. The excited cow barreled down the road faster than little Pawlina could follow.

“Help! Help!” she cried out in Ukrainian. Tears flooded her eyes. It was her family’s only cow and now she, the oldest of four children, had let it run away.

Moments later, a young man appeared out of the fog leading Pawlina’s family cow behind him. Pawlina screamed in joy and ran to give the man a hug. Pavlo lived in the same small village of Skomorokh, but this was the first time Pawlina had ever seen the handsome 17-year-old.

Quite possibly that same cow was what brought the couple together twelve years later. Pawlina’s father graciously sold their family cow to purchase a ticket for Pawlina to travel to America. Pawlina was reunited with Pavlo in New York City where they married on July 16, 1916.

Pavlo Belej and Pawlina Kaspruk were my great grandparents born in then Austria-Hungary, which is now western Ukraine. The village of Skomorokh was destroyed in World War I, but rebuilt, and sits about 100 miles east of the Poland border, near the country of Moldova.

Pictured above: Pavlo Belej and Pawlina Kaspruk with their children Steve and Olga.
James and I were fortunate to visit the country of Ukraine this past week. While we were unable to reach the village of Skomorokh, we did have the opportunity to explore Kiev and experience the rich Ukrainian culture and history.

Kiev is a pleasant city with strong religious overtones. Ten miles walking took us over the cobblestone streets, through Independence Square, above the river Dnieper and near all of the decorated cathedrals. We pocketed a few hand-blown, painted eggs from a local craftsman and completed our visit by sampling various types of pierogies and feasting on Chicken Kiev.


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