'I can’t think about what we have left behind': Ukrainian mother thanks Cork people for support amidst devastation

"There are no more tears left. My heart has turned to stone now. All we can do is ask the Cork people for their prayers and solidarity." 
'I can’t think about what we have left behind': Ukrainian mother thanks Cork people for support amidst devastation

Olesya Popova, who is heading a humanitarian project in Ukraine sponsored by the Greater Chernobyl Cause, with her daughters Viktoria and Anastasia, as well as Marina Maramzina and Anna Londarenko. Ms Popova says: ‘I can’t think about what we have left behind. We just have to live in this moment.’

A UKRAINIAN resident whose daughter was rendered mute for three days from the shock of a rocket attack near their home said her heart had turned to stone amid the ongoing atrocities.

Olesya Popova expressed gratitude to the people of Cork for helping keep her people strong. She is currently risking her life to help others as the head of a humanitarian hub financed by the Greater Chernobyl Cause.

Ms Popova said she was looking forward to a peaceful time when she can welcome the Cork charity’s founder, Fiona Corcoran, back to Ukraine for the reunion they both long for.

In the meantime, she is keen to encourage people to support the Greater Chernobyl Cause to allow her to continue the positive efforts in Lviv. It comes after her family fled Kharkiv after a terrifying rocket attack.

“Our car and the car of our neighbours was on fire,” she said of the attack. “The house was partially destroyed and we were afraid to stay because cluster bombs were coming to the street. We were living just 30km from the Russian border so my house was in the firing line.

“I can’t think about what we have left behind. We just have to live in this moment. A lot of us have Russian relatives but the war has changed everything. Our own blood have become like enemies.”

She cast her mind back to the day of the invasion.

“The children were waking up crying and frightened,” she said. “My daughter of 17 years couldn’t speak three days later because she was so frightened. I was trying not to show the fear to my children.

“There were supermarkets with no food, not even bread. People were frightened. We left everything behind so there was no help and no way back.”

The mum of four now devotes much of her time to the local humanitarian hub, which provides a range of supports including medical intervention, transport to the border, counselling, and accommodation. Her volunteering serves as a distraction during the disturbing atrocities unfolding every week in her locality.

“One family was killed by a Russian rocket and a five-month-old baby died. There are no more tears left. My heart has turned to stone now. All we can do is ask the Cork people for their prayers and solidarity. We hope for victory in the end and your solidarity gives us hope.”

She urged people not to forget the devastation wrought by Russian troops in her country.

“I hope everyone knows what is happening here. We are keeping the Irish people in our heart. We appreciate them and everything they have done for us.”

Help from Cork 

Meanwhile, Ms Corcoran said she was liaising with Ms Popova as efforts to help Ukrainians through the trauma continue.

“As the humanitarian situation in Ukraine worsens, we are desperately trying to get aid to those who need it most,” Ms Corcoran said.

“We have worked in Ukraine for more than two decades, assisting the poor, ill, and desperate, and funding the construction of orphanages, care centres and hospices for those abandoned and forgotten.

“Over 14m people have now had to flee from the Russian onslaught.

“We now send all the aid and funds that we can — donated largely by the people of Cork — but the scale of the tragedy is so great that no amount of aid ever seems to be enough.”

  • Find out more about how to support the cause by visiting www.greaterchernobylcause.ie or calling 087 9536133. You can also email info@greaterchernobylcause.ie. The Greater Chernobyl Cause is located at Unit 2 Southside Industrial Estate, Pouladuf Road, Togher, Cork.

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