A fundraiser is seeking to reunite the mother of a Menomonee Falls High School employee with her son, who is stuck in Ukraine while the country’s war with Russia is ongoing.
That fundraiser on the GiveSendGo website is seeking to help Nataliya Gissibl, who works at the school as a special education assistant, bring her 19-year-old son, Nils, home.
Beth Clark, Gissibl’s stepdaughter, created the online fundraising page, which has raised $2,080 as of April 6. Gissibl is originally from Ukraine.
Clark wrote on the fundraising page that she has multiple reasons for setting up the page: to help cover the cost of long-distance phone calls, to send money to Ukraine to help them stock up on supplies, to arrange transportation for Nils to an area accepting refugees and to provide relief to Gissibl, herself, who is working four jobs.
According to the page, Gissibl works at Menomonee Falls High School and at a day care center after school. She also cleans medical clinics in the evening and picks up 12-hour shifts at Quad/Graphics when work is available on weekends.
Gissibl is working to help her pay for her son’s medical college, provide for her daughter and financially support her aunt.
Gissibl said in a phone interview that because of the war, Nils returned from medical college in Poltava to Kharkiv, where Gissibl is from. She also said she has family members, including an aunt and nephew, who are still in the city. Ella Gissibl’s daughter, Anya, is in Menomonee Falls with her.
“I wish I could go over there and help somehow, but I don’t even know if I can fly there because right now there are no airplanes in Kharkiv. The airport is ruined completely, and nobody knows when it’s going to be fixed, said Gissib.
Gissibl said her son and a friend described what they have seen in Ukraine. Nils told her he has heard shooting and has seen tanks on the streets. A friend told her about seeing parts of human bodies on the ground.
It’s hearing those accounts, reading articles and watching videos about the conflict online that have Gissibl’s mind thinking of her home country.
“My body is in here in America, but my mind (is) over there. Every time I see somebody, and every time I talk to somebody — to my friends — and they see how I look like, they (ask) ‘Did you cry today?’ Because they probably see my red eyes. don’t understand what’s happening in my life right now.’ So I’m just trying to be as strong as I can, but it’s very hard. It’s terrible,” said Gissibl.
Clark said it’s hard to see Gissibl living with the stress and worrying about Nils, saying Gissibl regularly asks her whether she will see her son again.
“I eventually had to tell her you’ve got to stop watching those videos and looking up the horrific pictures,” said Clark. “You know now that it’s bad, and we just have to pray for Nils’ protection from her. I just keep telling her,’ you’re absolutely going to see him again, because she’s got to have hope.”
Gissibl said people have been supportive and understanding of her situation.
“After spring break, I returned back to school and they kept telling me ‘we still keep on praying for your family.’ A lot of people keep saying ‘why is (Vladimir) Putin so stingy and greedy? I just keep telling them I have no idea,” Gissibl said.
To donate, visit givesendgo.com/G26T9.
Contact Alec Johnson at (262) 875-9469 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlecJohnson12.