'I plan to go back when we win' - Ukrainian woman living in Ireland

Oleksandra Hromova, who previously studied in Dublin, said she understands why there are anti-refugee protests
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.55 24 Feb 2023

Share this article

'I plan to go back when we win...

'I plan to go back when we win' - Ukrainian woman living in Ireland

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.55 24 Feb 2023

Share this article

One Ukrainian woman living in Ireland has said she plans to return to her country when they win the war. 

Friday marks one year since Russia invaded Ukraine, which has been condemned by the international community.

Oleksandra Hromova lived in Dnipro with her mother and grandmother.


She had previously studied in Ireland for her gap year, from September 2019 to August 2020.

Alex, as she is also known, told Lunchtime Live what she remembers from this time last year.

"I woke up at around 4 or 5am in the morning because my house was shaking," she said.

"I couldn't understand what was going on, and I was really scared.

"It was very scary, those first two or three hours, because no one really knew what was going on.

"I would say after 7am in the morning a year ago, our news - radio and television - they were saying that the war [had] started."

'It can't be real'

Alex said she could not believe what was happening.

"In my head was this voice saying, 'No you're wrong, it's not happening; it's the 21st century, it can't be real, maybe it's wrong' - but no, it wasn't," she said.

She said as she lived close to her local airport, she was "real freaked out."

"We couldn't understand what was going on, what they were going to try to destroy first," she said.

"So we just tried to do our best not to panic".

Oleksandra Hromova Oleksandra Hromova at The Salvation Army in Dublin city centre. Picture: Supplied

Alex said she decided to leave about two weeks later.

"For the first two weeks we were just waiting to see what was going on, how long it will take and how it's going to be like," she said

"After two weeks, I decided I can't do it anymore because I was too scared.

"I couldn't go anywhere; I couldn't sleep properly, I couldn't eat properly.

"I was kind of existing but not living - I decided that it's time to leave."

Arriving in Ireland

Alex said friends of hers in Dublin persuaded her to come to Ireland.

She and her mother got themselves to the Polish border, and The Salvation Army - where she now works - helped get them the rest of the way.

"The Salvation Army, the organisation who created the gap year, they are based in Dublin... so I stayed with them," she said.

"That's why I came to Ireland; because I had some background here and I knew that I had friends here who can support me.

"I know the country, I know the people."

'Very scary moment for us'

Alex said her grandmother is still in Dnipro.

"Me and my mum we both arrived to Dublin, but my grandma she's still there in the same city," she said.

"She said that she is fine, but at the same time she's in her late-70s," she said.

"She has some issues with blood pressure, and many things, so she is doing her best.

"She is trying to be positive, but at the same time I understand that it's not easy."

Alex said power outages mean her grandmother can't always charge her phone.

"It was a very scary moment for us here, because we couldn't contact her there," she said.

"We were trying to call her or text her, but she couldn't reply because they didn't have a connection or they didn't have an opportunity to charge their devices".

What the future holds?

Alex said she plans to return to Ukraine soon.

"I definitely plan to go back, but when we win the war," she said.

"At the moment I understand that I can be more helpful here, because I can support my friends back there.

"I can send them money, or if they need something I can support my family and I can donate to our army and to our foundation - who are fundraising for women and for kids.

"I feel myself more helpful here at the moment," she added.

Anti-refugee protests

Alex also said she understands why there are some anti-refugee protests.

"They are trying to protect their nationality and they're trying to protect themselves for losing their houses and for losing their lives [sic]," she said.

"I understand - because in my district since 2014, when the Russian invasion started very slowly at that point - but lots of refugees came to my city in Ukraine.

"I understand what that means; because refugees are receiving more help from government, usually, than other people do," she added.

Listen back to the full segment below:

Main image: Oleksandra Hromova. Picture: Supplied

Share this article

Read more about

Alex Anniversary Dnipro Ireland Lunchtime Live Oleksandra Hromova Russia Salvation Army Ukraine Ukrainian Woman

Most Popular