ku.gro.yratorelavnotnuat%40olleh

The story of a Ukrainian family coming to Taunton by Olga Korchak

The story of a Ukrainian family coming to Taunton by Olga Korchak

I was invited to speak at the Rotary meeting last night. This was the first time I have spoken to an audience like this, but I wanted to talk about how difficult the process is, and to thank Rotary. Without people in this organisation I would still be stranded in Calais. I never knew that people who did not know each other would help each other as if they were best friends. Sylviane and Guillaume in Calais were so kind-hearted to us all and we stayed there for 10 days (they were not expecting it to be so long but they didn't complain) when we were sent twice to the processing centre because some of our documents had been lost. Border Force was not helpful, though on the second visit some kind people gave the children sweets - even to my 16-year old.

We were bombed on the first day of war, even though we were in the southwest of Ukraine. We moved to a safer place but had to hide in the bathroom and it still wasn't safe. So I had 40 minutes to pack 2 suitcases between 4 of us. Me and my 3 children, age 16, 7 and 6. We left my husband, grandmother, in-laws, our pets. I sold everything - all of my jewelry including my rings - so that we could travel. We arrived in Calais with nothing. Enough money for maybe one night and no food. No passports. I was in a panic but Julie kept saying to me, 'Don't panic. We will sort it. It may not be today or tomorrow. But we will get you here.' It was all trust - for both of us. We found each other on facebook. I saw Julie on facebook and she said she would help, so I decided that I needed to leave straight away and a man helped us travel. But he said 'now or never' for travelling.

Recently I have been a stay-at-home mum, but before that I was an accountant. I don't think my English is good enough to work in that profession but I want to work. But again my documents have been lost and even the 6 and 7 year olds have a permit to work! But I don't yet. So I can't yet open a bank account or apply for help.

I cannot believe how kind and generous people are here in this town and in our new village, Kingston St Mary.

My children have seen things they should never have seen. And we are so worried about people left behind and what is happening now in Ukraine. But my children are safe. Not just safe - we have a home.

Thank you, Rotary. I plan to join this amazing group of people when I return to Ukraine.

Olga Korchak

Taunton Vale Rotary Members listening to Olga

Taunton Vale Rotary Members listening to Olga

A note from Taunton Vale Rotary:  We have been humbled to be able to help people like Olga in some small way.  We raised funds to support Ukraine and sent £11,806 over via Rotary which will be doubled by Rotary International and be distributed by those who will know where it can do most good.  An appeal at the start of the war led to lorry loads of bedding, warm clothing and hygiene products being gathered and sent to Ukraine within days of the news breaking.  We don't just park cars!