Ukrainians in Cork send love to dads fighting war

Many Ukrainians in Cork will mark this Father’s Day without loved ones who have stayed behind to fight for their country. Sarah Horgan hears how they live in hope they will be reunited. 
Ukrainians in Cork send love to dads fighting war

Members of the Ukraine community staying at Redbarn, Co Cork pay tribute to their dads and husbands fighting on the frontline. Included is Fiona Corcoran of the Greater Chernobyl Cause. Picture Dan Linehan

UKRAINIAN refugees fought back tears while describing the sacrifice of husbands and family on the frontline as they prepared to celebrate their first Father’s Day at war with Russia.

A number of Ukrainian natives are paying tribute to their bravery during what will undoubtedly be a bittersweet day for the hundreds who fled unrest to make Cork their new home.

Many spoke of the heartbreak their children will be forced to experience on what should have been a special day for families across the country today. 

Some even recalled pleading with partners to escape the atrocities with them. 

Nonetheless, the majority felt a responsibility to fight for the future of their country and families.

Ukrainian natives now living in Redbarn in Youghal opened up about having everything taken away from them. What remains, however, is a resounding sense of hope that fathers can be reunited with their children when peace finally wins out.

My husband is a hero 

 Violetta Pratsovyta with a picture of her husband Roman who is fighting in Ukraine. Picture Dan Linehan
Violetta Pratsovyta with a picture of her husband Roman who is fighting in Ukraine. Picture Dan Linehan

Violetta Pratsovyta was among those in the group with a special message for her husband Roman, the dad of her three-year-old son Damir.

She can still picture the day they were forced to leave him behind like it was yesterday.

“He told me that he loved me and that he would come to Ireland to be with me soon,” she said. “To be a father is heroic. To fight in a war is heroic. I would definitely call my husband a hero.”

Violetta admitted she had reservations about his decision to fight.

“I didn’t want him to go to war but I am still very proud. I am proud of Ukraine and I want my husband to know that we will win this war.”

The pair exchange phone calls and video chats regularly.

“I speak to him on the phone about how he’s doing. There is secret information that he is not authorised to share with me and that does get me a little worried. When I talk to him I cry. It’s not something I can keep in because it’s all really stressful.

“What we want is to have him here in Ireland where we can live without war.”

She still longs for the day the three of them can be together in Ireland.

“The first thing we’d like to do together when he gets to Ireland is swim in the sea. When I see him the first thing I will do is hug him. My biggest wish this Father’s Day is to see every father back with their children again.”

For now, all Violetta can do is wait.

“I am living today, not tomorrow or yesterday. We live in hope that everything will come right and be okay again.”

Missing their dad 

Valeriia Pinonit, who is 18-years-old and also a resident of Red Barn said that she and her little sister miss their father Yuriiy desperately. Yuriiy is currently volunteering with the territorial defence offering assistance to those on the frontline.

 Yuliia Pinonit in a family picture with her husband Yuriiy who is fighting in the Ukraine. Picture Dan Linehan
Yuliia Pinonit in a family picture with her husband Yuriiy who is fighting in the Ukraine. Picture Dan Linehan

“My sister Varvara is seven years old and she cries all the time,” Valeriia said. “She’ll wake up in the morning and ask “where is my daddy?”

Valeriia’s mother Yuliia said it will be some comfort to Yuriiy to know that his children are being looked after.

“He is very thankful to Ireland for what they have done for us. If we had one message for him, it would be that he needs to be strong and keep waiting for us. We pray every morning and every night to thank God for giving us another day.”

'He wants to be brave for us'

Meanwhile, Svetlana Hasanoba had a special message for her son-in-law Ruslan who she described as an unbelievable father to her four-year-old granddaughter Alisa.

“He wants to be brave for us,” she said.

 Svetlana shows a picture of her husband Ruslan who is fighting in Ukraine, daughter Janna, and grandaughter Alisa. Picture Dan Linehan
Svetlana shows a picture of her husband Ruslan who is fighting in Ukraine, daughter Janna, and grandaughter Alisa. Picture Dan Linehan

“If we’re on the phone and we ask him about a bomb we heard about he’ll say ‘no, there is no bomb here. It’s quiet every day’. He asks that we don’t watch the news or read about the war in newspapers. All he wants is for us to be happy.

“We can’t wait for the day we can all be together again. I know he will take Alisa in his arms and hug her so tight.”

Fiona Corcoran from the Greater Chernobyl Cause is currently working with Ukrainian refugees in Cork with donations and help with access to services, among other supports.

  • Readers can find out more about how to support the cause by emailing info@greaterchernobylcause.ie

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