Ukrainian Anastasia Kyshmar touched down in Dublin Airport on 3rd March but it is impossible for her stop thinking about her home country in its hour of greatest peril:
“To be honest, it’s so hard,” she told The Hard Shoulder.
“I still have a lot of my family and a lot of my friends there [in Ukraine] and a lot of them are protecting our country right now.
“A lot of them are dying and I love them.
“It breaks my heart to see it and… whenever I see the news right now it really makes me emotional. It makes me cry. I just wish I could help myself.
“Like I’m so grateful that Ireland has taken us and I’m so grateful that we can stay in a safe place but then I just feel like I’m being left out and I feel ashamed that I am alive for some reason - if it makes any sense.”
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The invasion has robbed Ukrainians of normality and joy in every single aspect of their lives. But for Anastasia, it deprived her of a uniquely special moment in her life - her wedding day.
“I was in Kyiv on 24th February with my almost husband - we were supposed to be married on 25th February,” Anastasia recalled.
“On the 25th we left - the worst day I guess in my life right now - because at 4am there was an airplane that fell right next to us and we ran away from it.
“The experience is just… I can’t really tell you how horrible it was.”
The couple travelled to their hometown of Odessa and then made it into neighbouring Moldova; after a brief stop off in Romania, they arrived in Dublin after picking Ireland because they speak the language.
“I want to be a working member of society,” Anastasia explained.
“I don’t want to be a burden to anyone. I don’t want to stay as a refugee and learn another language for three to five years and go through that whole process when I can… work, I can be a lot of help.”
Main image: Refugees board the train to Berlin at the Przemysl train station near the Ukrainian-Polish border in the morning. Picture by: Kay Nietfeld/dpa/Alamy Live News