Here are Oksana and Anna, two of the loveliest Ukrainian refugees you could ever wish to meet! They're now living with my wife and I, and our two boys aged 6 and 3 in the UK. Here's a little bit about them and why we're looking for donations:
Oksana and her daughter Anna left Ukraine as refugees and migrated to the UK last month to escape the war at home following the Russian invasion. It's hard to imagine the wrench of leaving your home country, your family and friends, your school and job, for a country you've never been to before; to learn a new culture, a new language, meet new people, and live with a family you've never met.
Oksana finally decided to leave Ukraine this summer to give Anna, aged 13, safety and security following the horrifying stories of Russian soldiers attacking and raping young girls in their country. Anna had to stay at home alone with missiles landing near her home, whilst Oksana worked two jobs; her professional job at Kernel (a sunflower oil producer), and another volunteering to support the Ukrainian military with clothing and equipment. After making that decision and being paired with my family to come to the UK and live with us for the next year, Oksana and Anna packed two suitcases and made the perilous journey by train across Ukraine and into Poland. I'm sure many of you have read the news about the Russian army targeting train stations across Ukraine and civilians being killed and injured; again, it's difficult to imagine the fear in making such a journey.
Fortunately, Oksana and Anna escaped safely, and my wife Aimee and I were very happy to welcome them to the UK in August. Now Anna is safe, Oksana hopes that her daughter will be able to realise her dreams of becoming a dancer! Despite having been diagnosed with congenital heart disease since she was born, Anna has danced since she was 5 years old - her doctors advising it to be a healthy activity for her condition. Anna is now participating in our local classes for modern, contemporary, and classical ballet. We're incredibly grateful to her teacher for allowing her to join for free.
Oksana believes the UK will offer a promising future for her daughter; a good education, allow her to be healthy and happy, and make new friends. After a hectic start to life in England with the last-minute stress of getting Anna a school place one week before the start of term, Anna is now slowly settling into a new life. This school place will only last for one year, at which point Anna will have to start over in another school - a scary prospect for any teenager!
At the same time, Oksana is already volunteering at the charity shop Scope in our local town, is taking English classes to improve her language skills, and searching for a professional job that fits her experience. Looking to the future, Oksana and Anna are excited about moving into their own place in the UK and leading a life independent of us as their sponsors.
In Oksana's words: "I don't want to see more pain, fear, and uncertainty in my daughter's eyes. I want her smile to return and let her have a happy childhood."
Every donation will help Oksana and Anna to rebuild their lives destroyed by this war to a new state of normality, with the belief and hope that good will surely win. Specifically, donations might fund:
- School uniform for Anna
- Sporting equipment Anna requires at school
- Mandatory school trips (e.g. geography field trips)
- Contributions towards their living in their own accommodation
- Clothing and shoes (they only arrived with two suitcases remember!)
- Paying for transport so they have greater independence
- Study opportunities in order to have a job and give back to society
- The chance for Anna and Oksana to enjoy living in the UK, away from the horrors of the war in Ukraine
On behalf of Oksana and Anna, thank you so much for any donations - they are hugely appreciated.