‘Fleeing from a war is a major trauma’
Iryra with her family who fled their home near Kyiv in Ukraine

‘Fleeing from a war is a major trauma’

A UKRAINIAN woman opened up her Adamstown home to relatives who fled the war, including three children, when they arrived in Dublin on Friday afternoon.

Iryna Danilova, 35, welcomed her mother-in-law, Zoia Danilova, 61, brother- and sister-in-law Pavlo Danilov, 36, and Yevheniia Danilova, and her nieces Polina Vazhina, 13, Anna Vazhina, eight, and four-month-old Alisa Danilova.

On February 24, the family fled their home near Kyiv at 5am, with very few belongings, amid shelling from Russian forces. They spent several days in Poland, before arriving in Dublin last week.

The family are still adjusting to their new environment, sharing a three-bed house with Iryna, who has lived in Ireland for eight years, and her husband, Sergii Danilov, 40, and their two children, Nikita, ten, who was born in Ukraine, and five-year-old Peter.

Iryna, who previously lived in Old Bawn and works as an assistant psychologist, told The Echo: “They’re extremely worried about their lives – about their house in Ukraine, their careers…they’re in limbo and don’t know when they’ll be able to go back.”

The two eldest children in the family started attending local schools this week, despite grappling with a language barrier and the upheaval they’ve experienced in recent weeks.

Iryna added: “I think the most important thing is for the girls to realise is that they’re safe and will have some sort of normalcy here.

“Fleeing from a war is a major trauma, but I’m trying to help them with what will happen next, like how school days are here, and I’m teaching them how to ask for things in English.”

The family has been heartened by the support of locals, including one neighbour who works for Penneys and organised a collection of clothes in the Penneys office for the young girls so that when they arrived, they had four bags of new clothes waiting for them.

While Iryna said she is relieved that her husband’s family are now in Ireland, she’s still concerned about her own mother and father – aged 58 and 59 respectively – who are in the port city of Odesa and are determined to stay and fight.

Odesa is a key port city that provides access to the Black Sea, and tension is mounting due to the presence of Russian warships off the coast of the once bustling city of over a million people.

Last Sunday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Russia was “preparing to bomb Odesa”.

Talking about her parents’ decision to stay and help to fight off any Russian advances in the city, Iryna said: “My parents are still adamant about staying.

“We’re taking it day-by-day. I check in with them every morning…all I want to hear is that they’re safe and there’s no bombing happening.

“They sound quite positive and confident when I talk to them. They said they’ll stay there no matter what. But they’re preparing for the worst.”

When asked about how she feels about the world watching the devastation and destruction that’s being wrought on her home country, Iryna said: “I miss the times when nobody knew where Ukraine was on a map.

“I’d love the eyes of the world to be concerned with something peaceful or to do with our culture.

“I hate that Ukraine has become well known because of the war, and not for something peaceful instead.”

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