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Nadia, now working with Lisdoonvarana Fáilte, translates Minister Heather Humphrey's speech for members of the Ukrainian community during the minister's recent visit to North Clare. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty

Nadiia: Ukrainians grateful for standard of Clare accommodation

Champion Chatter Podcast

A UKRAINIAN interpreter who fled her warn torn country is pleasantly surprised with the quality of accommodation that is being provided for refugees in Lisdoonvarna.

In an interview with the Clare Champion outside the Lisdoonvarna Pavilion, Nadiia Melnyk praised Lisdoonvarna Fáilte CLG and local people for the tremendous welcome and supports they have provided for Ukrainian refugees.

Asked about the reception refugees have received in Lisdoonvarna, the interpreter said she was happy with the accommodation and facilities.

“I was prepared to sleep on a bunk bed in a gym because I saw what was happening in Poland. I was really surprised we were going to live in a hotel.

“When I saw the Hydro Hotel, I was shocked. I didn’t expect the food and the social welfare payment of €206 for a refugee that is older than 24 years old.

“A lot of Ukrainian refugees want to work because they don’t feel it is right to get everything and give nothing back.”

Like other refugees, she started completing voluntary work to help others. She confirmed some refugees are doing part time jobs.

She now is paid by Lisdoonvarna Fáilte to work as an interpreter and co-ordinator on a part time basis.

In addition to working in cooperation with social workers, she set up a group chat on messenger for Ukrainian refugees, providing information on what supports are available for them.

“People in Lisdoonvarna are very welcoming. They want to donate things to refugees.

“They keep texting me ‘do you need anything’ and ‘how can we help’. They even bring more than we need.

“I think everything that the government can do is being done. The only thing refugees need is information, which is part of my role.

“People need to know they can relax and know something is being done because uncertainty is very stressful.”

Having grown up in the Western Ukraine, she worked in Eastern Ukraine for about 18 months.

Born in St Petersburg, Russia, to a Russian mother, Nadiia never lived there, but grew up in Western Ukraine in Lviv.

Her mother met her father while he was on a military assignment in the old Soviet Union.

Shortly after the outbreak of the war, she fled from Kharkiv, arriving in Clare on March 14.

One of her students drove the English teacher and two other girls through Ukraine to Romania, which took a long time because of very long queues of women with children who were desperate to
leave the country.

From Romania, Nadiia went to Turkey because she knew a bit of Turkish, having spent a year there as a teacher.

Having flown to Istanbul, she got another flight on to Dublin Airport where she got a bus to Lisdoonvarna.

Now living in the Hydro Hotel, Lisdoonvarna, she felt it would be better to come to an English speaking country as she can converse in the language quite well.

“I read on an Irish government website if you don’t have anywhere to stay, you should say this to an immigration officer on your arrival.

“That is what I did. I have been located here with a group of other people who came with my on the same plane.

Her father who is 57 can’t leave Lviv because he is under 60 years of age. Her mother wouldn’t leave her father. Her half brother is in Eastern Ukraine.

However, it has proven very hard to connect with him because the city where he is staying is under siege. She hopes her half brother will be able to escape with his mother.

Asked was she shocked when the war started, Nadiia admitted she was shocked because when a Canadian pen pal warned her there was something going on in Russia in relation to a possible Ukraine invasion, she thought the Russians were bluffing because why would a war break out in the 21st century.

“I couldn’t believe it when the war happened. The day before the war started, my mother text me and asked me what was I still in the country.

“But I didn’t want to leave work and I didn’t believe the war was possible. It was very unexpected. I was very scared when my student called me and woke me up at 5am. I was just panicking and just running around. I figured I better leave and if the war stops, it stops.”

About Dan Danaher

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