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Our New Chapter: Finding Home in Ireland

February 2024

As we continue our series on the stories of Ukrainian families affected by the war, we share the next chapter in the life of Anna’s family, previously published. Their initial journey from the chaos of war-torn Kyiv to Ireland was nothing short of extraordinary. This heartfelt testimony reflects on their life since settling in Ireland and the strides they’ve made in building a new home away from home.

By Anna Gogol, chronicling the ongoing journey of her family’s adaptation and growth in Ireland (2024)

Our journey didn’t end with our arrival in Ireland; in many ways, it was just beginning. The past months have been a whirlwind of adjustment, learning, and new experiences. I’m writing to share our story of integration, the challenges we’ve faced, and the incredible support we’ve encountered along the way.

Upon our arrival, our priority was to find a safe space for our children, especially considering Zoryana’s special needs. Both children were quickly enrolled in school, a crucial step in their adaptation process. Initially attending the same school, it soon became evident that Zoryana required a more specialised environment to accommodate her condition. In September 2023, she transitioned to a special school in another city, made accessible thanks to the provision of a school bus.

This school has been a wonderful discovery for Zoryana, staffed by experienced professionals and equipped with excellent educational resources. It’s heartening to see such a welcoming and supportive approach towards children with special needs, reflecting the broader societal inclusivity we’ve felt in Ireland. Zoryana’s teacher has even noted her budding understanding of English, a significant milestone for us.

Conversely, Zlata has thrived in her social and academic life, mastering English swiftly and forming a wide circle of friends. This was their first school experience in Ireland, setting a positive precedent for their educational journey here.

The welcome we’ve received in Ireland goes beyond words. From the moment we arrived, we’ve been met with open arms, extensive support, and a warmth that has greatly eased our transition. This acceptance and aid have been pivotal in making us feel safe and valued, a stark contrast to the uncertainty we fled.

(Anna Gogol with her daughters)

Despite the progress and positive experiences, the pain of separation lingers. My husband remains in Ukraine, contributing to the country’s defence, while my mother has been an indispensable source of support. Their sacrifices and the daily challenges they face weigh heavily on our hearts, reminding us of the ongoing strife in our homeland.

The creation of a Ukrainian hub here has been a solace, offering a sense of community and a way to contribute to the support efforts back home. Additionally, the friendships we’ve forged with Irish individuals and the guidance from social workers have been invaluable in navigating our new lives.

As we search for a permanent home in Ireland, our thoughts are with those who have helped us reach this point. Our journey is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, the kindness of strangers, and the enduring hope for a peaceful future.

To everyone who has been part of our story, thank you. Your support has been our beacon of hope in these times of change. As we look forward, we carry with us the lessons of the past and the promise of a new beginning.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Anna Gogol and family