World Refugee Week 2024

Copy of Refugee day 24  (1)

Tatiana’s Story

When Russia escalated its war on Ukraine to a full-scale invasion in 2022, over 6 million Ukrainians made the difficult decision to leave behind everything they had and flee their country. Since then, Ireland has welcomed more than 10,000 Ukrainian refugees who are eager to seek safety and begin a new life here. Among them is NCP’s very own Tetiana Petryshyna.

Tetiana is from the Odesa region of the Ukraine. She was rising through the ranks in her office job and cherishing motherhood with her then-3-year-old son, Misha when Russia’s invasion upended their lives. Odessa became the target of Russian shelling and missile airstrikes early in the war. Tetiana was initially hesitant to leave her home, but as the weeks went on, it became clear that it was no longer safe to remain there. Tetiana, together with her mother, and her young son packed her car and escaped through the Romanian border. After a very difficult journey, which also included a few months in Turkey, they arrived in Ireland. One of the reasons Tatiana chose to come to Ireland was because she felt it would be easier to find a job in an English-speaking country.

Tetiana first arrived in Ireland at the beginning of summer 2022 and was placed in temporary accommodation provided by the government. Determined to create stability and independence for her family, she began looking for long-term accommodation, building connections, and rebuilding a new life in Ireland. Later on, after finding private rental accommodation, Tatiana started a job hunt and enrolled Misha in school, where he immediately flourished. Today in less than two years Misha speaks perfect English. He knows how to count and read. His school offers a diverse and inclusive learning environment where he has made friends from all over the world. Tetiana describes Misha with pride and warmth.

As her family settled into their new home and Misha excelled in his new school, Tetiana accepted a temporary position at Dublin Airport. Meanwhile, she saw an advertisement for NCP’s “Ukrainian Mothers Club” on social media and became an active member. Tetiana was passionate about the club from her first meeting; she loved having a community of women who shared her cultural background. She was constantly sharing information on resources for Ukrainians and valued the kinship the club provided. After a few months, the club needed a new coordinator and Tatiana became the new coordinator for the “Ukrainian Mothers Club”.

The role was a perfect fit for Tetiana. She applied her business administration experience to organise and expand the club, and her lived experience makes her the best possible person for the job. It allows her to empathize and understand precisely what members feel and what they need. Today, Tetiana’s role at NCP has grown to a full-time position. Not only Tatiana manages the “Ukrainian Mothers Club” she is also the new Community Development Coordinator in NCP. Tatiana feels lucky and thankful that she has the opportunity not only to help Ukrainian refugees in Ireland but also migrants in general through her work at NCP.

Of course, Tetiana’s journey includes more than the inspirational ascent we’ve shared today. Her mother struggled to adapt to a new culture and language at her advanced age. Despite Tetiana’s heartfelt protests, her mother ultimately chose to return to Ukraine, leaving Tetiana with a deep sense of loss and worry for her wellbeing.

Even today the trauma of the journey has left an impact on Tatiana. She often wakes from nightmares with the sounds of air raid sirens still ringing in her ears, gripped with the urge to protect Mishia. She still feels overwhelmed by a sense of danger when she reads news updates about the ongoing war.

Tetiana’s bravery, resilience, and determination have enabled her to overcome every obstacle in her path, forging a new and fulfilling life for herself and her son. Tatiana feels at home here and considers having two homes now; Ireland and Ukraine.


Yahye's Story

Copy of Copy of Refugee day 24

Yahye Mohammad grew up in Somalia but after finishing school in 2017 he moved to Turkey to continue his higher education there. After achieving his bachelor’s degree in International Relations, Yahye returned to Somalia in 2022.

It’s well documented internationally that the situation in Somalia has been volatile for the past ten years with an ongoing civil war. When Yahye returned home, he started working in a government institution, which was incredibly dangerous due to the country's instability. He knew he could be a target of extremist groups at any point who viewed the government workers as representing a secular organisation and a threat to their more conservative values. During his time there, it became clear that he was unsafe to continue living in Somalia.

Unlike living in Turkey, where Yahye could do normal daily activities like having a picnic with friends in the park, in Somalia he constantly had to consider what he was doing, where he was going, and who he was with so it wouldn't make him vulnerable to violence. Life in Somalia involved being on high alert 24/7. Not only for him but also for his family and friends, unfortunately, a sense of danger has been normalised there.

Ireland was the first place that he could reach easily to seek asylum. Yahye learned English through his studies in Turkey and from speaking with foreign friends and peers in his international relations major. His experience in Turkey also exposed him to diverse cultures, and having that background made it easy to adapt to life in Ireland.

For the first month and a half after arriving in Dublin, while waiting for his work permit, Yahye needed to fill his days and keep his mind occupied, so he began volunteering in the asylum seekers' reception centers. On top of Turkish and English, Yahwe also knows Arabic. His language skills allowed him to work voluntarily as a translator for the reception center. At the end of December 2023, after a little over a month in Ireland, he was transferred to Limericks Accommodation Centre. There, he began volunteering as a translator with the Limerick Education and Training Board, which he continues today. He also kept busy by becoming involved with the GAFF Limerick, a nonprofit focused on building Limerick's arts and theatre community. His volunteer translation services allowed these organizations to reach Somali, North African, and Turkish communities.

Finally, after 7 months, Yahyeh received his work permit. He has already applied for jobs, hoping to find an opportunity in the social work sector. However, he is open to any opportunities that

come his way. With his work permit, he also plans to enrol in advanced English courses at the local university to improve his language skills.

Yahye used to think of “home” as family, and in fact, one of the reasons he returned to Somalia after his studies was because he missed his family and friends. However, after returning to Somalia and confronting the dangerous reality there and the constant feeling of having to be alert and careful, his understanding and definition of home have evolved. He now feels home is where you feel safe. Where you don’t always have to worry about your physical or mental safety. For him home is Ireland.