New Ukrainian Support Group established at Arklow Library

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Kyiv psychologist Tetiana Tymchuk is delighted to announce a new Ukrainian support group at Arklow Library.

r Tymchuk is a mother of four who sought refuge in Arklow along with her husband and sons shortly after the war began in February. Sadly, her eldest son had to remain in the country, as males above the age of 18 years-old are not permitted to cross the Ukrainian border.

Tetiana explained that, despite having their physical security guaranteed and basic needs met, Ukrainian refugees still feel very anxious about the fate of their nation and their relatives still living there.

“I established the group to provide a support network for my compatriots who have been traumatised by war,” Tetiana said. “Ukrainians may feel alone, confused or lost. They may be without a clear vision of their future, or have a sense of guilt that they are alive and healthy, while others are not.

“Post-traumatic stress symptoms, such as nightmares and alertness to unexpected sharp sounds, can also trouble those fleeing war. These are not isolated cases, the problem is larger. This is why I decided to organise the support meetings.”

“We are people in a shared situation, with a shared mentality and a common language,” she continued. “We needed a place to meet, to freely express ourselves and to tell our stories.”

Tetiana extended her heartfelt thanks to the Arklow Library for accommodating the group, and to the people of Arklow for welcoming her family and her people with open arms.

“The residents of Arklow have been very friendly, sincere and open to us,” Tetiana said. “We haven’t needed to ask for anything, they have been so generous. The attitude of the people is one of warmth. With your beautiful natural landscapes, this place is a great foundation for healing.”

Tetiana explained that Irish and Ukrainian culture share a lot similarities. She noted that both nations “share the experience of being oppressed by a great neighbour, who has been drowning us for centuries”.

“Suppression of national identity, fragmentation of territory, these are things we both know,” Tetiana said.

“Because of our experience with the Soviet Union, when almost all of life was under the control of the Communist Party and the constant threat of repression, it is difficult for Ukrainians to trust, talk about their feelings or even talk to a passer-by.

“The Irish, on the other hand, feel free talking to strangers,” she joked. “You do not rush through life, you enjoy it. This is something we are learning from you.

“We are certainly both peaceful, kind and friendly people, who love nature, our families and good food.”

Asked whether there are many differences between our countries, Tetiana sighed and said, “If we’re talking about everyday differences then, yes, there are a lot of good and bad!

“First, we definitely have a better internet and digital infrastructure. Also, we have kindergartens that work all day, and no school uniforms.

“Most Ukrainians live in large cities or towns. In apartment buildings, with 9 to 16 floors. You live mostly in private houses. Also, in Ukraine (before the war), if you wanted to rent, a wide range of budgets were available. In Ireland it’s different. I don’t think you have enough housing for rent.

“However, Ireland has a very developed social protection system,” Tetiana conceded. “You care for your people and provide them with opportunities for training and professional growth. If you want it, and you work, you can get it. It’s incredible. It makes you fall in love with this country

“I am eternally grateful to Ireland and the Irish people for the shelter and their generous help.”

Tetiana’s support group is open to all Ukrainians. They meet at the Arklow Library every Thursday from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.

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