Diary of a Ukrainian refugee: “There is so much support here if you have a disability”

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We generally feel good these days, although the anxiety doesn’t go away. We try to live a normal life, to enjoy the weather, the weekends, the food and to have little bits of happiness. But then, when you realize the reality of life in Ukraine, everything loses its color… We are only humans, we try.

The husband continues to work remotely and Tymofii attends school, where he takes additional English lessons. He gets along well with his classmates, and people in our neighborhood recently gave him a bike. We recently visited Dublin Zoo and it was amazing.

We feel settled here and I have the impression that Dublin is really “my” city. It is a very comfortable city to live in. At the same time, my homesickness is very strong. Sometimes I really don’t think I can handle it. But then I look at my son. He’s the main thing in my life and it’s better for him to be here.

I started computer classes recently. I hope I will succeed. My husband believes in me a lot, even more than I believe in myself. I also started online English lessons and an English club at our local library. My teachers are interesting people and it’s a pleasure to go there. My classmates are also nice people. I hope I will make friends with them, even though it’s not easy to make friends when you’re an adult.

Our friends and family in Ukraine are all worried. Some of my friends, who went to Poland from Lviv, are now back in Ukraine. Some are still in Poland and other countries. In fact, no one knows what to do right now. But they are brave and determined. All our friends in Lviv help refugees, the army, save animals – and we try to help financially.

I also met some great people from Ukraine living here in Ireland. Some have just arrived and others have been living here for a long time. Everyone has a story.

What are the biggest differences between living in Ireland and Ukraine? The level of government and service support here. If you have a disability, it is a huge challenge to get help in Ukraine. However, charity is at a high level here. Every day I see people with disabilities on the streets, in shops and museums. They enjoy life. And I think it’s much easier to enjoy life when you have such support from government and people.

I pay attention to these things because I worked in a charity fund with sick children in Ukraine before the war. I have a child with cystic fibrosis, so I know all the problems from the inside.

The Irish love their country and think Ireland is the best country in the world. I admire that – the way the country supports and hears your issues. Maybe this will sound funny to you, but believe me, I’ve seen this difference every step of the way.

What do I like least about Ireland? Garbage in the streets. Ukrainian streets are much cleaner, but this is not a very important point.

In conversation with Katie Byrne

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