“The Ukrainian people have no choice but to be brave. There are 44 million people living there so they can’t all leave”
Ukrainian national Tatiana Pliszka has been living in Stonepark, Roscommon with her husband and two daughters for the past 14 years, but since the Russian invasion of her homeland her daily routine now revolves around regular calls home to check on the welfare of her elderly parents, who still work the family farm there.
“I call them in the morning and the afternoon so that I can hear their voices every day,” she said.
“It’s just crazy. My parents are in the countryside away from the big cities but the airport nearby was bombed and people are just waiting to see what will happen”.
Tatiana’s mother, who is 69, suffers with bad arthritis, and this causes her immense difficulty when the air raid sirens sound.
“They have a basement storage area for vegetables under the ground…but my mother is not able to run from the house. She stands still in a corner of the house because she says if she goes downstairs she won’t get back up,” Tatiana says.
Her 75-year-old father shops for supplies and also fills bags of potatoes and other produce for those defending his homeland.
“They couldn’t imagine leaving. What are they supposed to do, open the gates and let the animals go? They can’t do that. As long as they have a roof over their heads they will stay. We can only pray that they are safe every day,” Tatiana adds.
Tatiana’s older brother lives in Kyiv. He spends his days helping people there while his daughters work as nurses.
“It’s not the time to leave for them…so they stay to help others in the bomb shelters,” Tatiana says.
“They don’t want to leave their country and their lives (they have built there). If you watch the News you know that you can’t help. I want to help privately but I can’t…we just hope that humanitarian groups can.
“The Ukrainian people have no choice but to be brave. There are 44 million people living there so they can’t all leave”.
Tatiana’s younger brother and his young family are now in Poland thanks to her Polish husband and his family, but the worry goes on for those still in Ukraine.
“Putin won’t give up, he wants all the former Soviet countries back,” she says, “but it won’t be the same as it was 40 or 50 years ago.
“It will take a miracle to stop him and other smaller countries could be in real danger. (President) Zelensky is begging the UN and NATO for help. Ukraine reduced its military (in the past) because it wants to be free from all that”.
As she waits for better news from home, Tatiana says she wants to help those fleeing the conflict. She speaks Ukrainian, Russian, Polish and English and would like to assist those arriving in Ireland with translation and accessing services.
“It is better if they have someone who can speak their language so I want to help them with translation. If I feel helpless (about the situation in Ukraine) at least I can help here,” she said.