A keen Meath businesswoman has rescued her “precious cargo” – her Ukrainian mother, 70, and her 99-year-old grandmother – from the war-torn country.
uba Healy is now on her way home after crossing the border into Ukraine with her two beloved relatives.
At a hugely emotional reunion on Monday, Ms Healy said she can now “breathe and sleep again” after finally convincing her family to leave their homeland.
She said her “nana” was extremely tired from the dramatic rush to the border from the city of Haivoron, but Ms Healy vowed to “take care of her like a pound” when she expected to arrive in Trim tomorrow.
Ms Healy made the 3,000km journey with her husband Eugene, 13-year-old son Francis and family friend Diarmuid Dawson to Ukraine, where they “exchanged” 40 boxes of supplies for their family.
They also bring home five adult neighbors, a four-year-old girl and three dogs.
The Healys were blessed by a local priest before embarking on the perilous journey in an RV and SUV from Trim last Saturday.
“We have our precious cargo,” Ms Healy said Monday night, just hours after returning home from the Ukrainian border.
“My mother and my Nana had to wait for us at a petrol station inside the border for 36 hours and Nana didn’t think she could make it any further.
“As they left Haivoron, the (air raid) sirens started wailing, but instead of returning to the shelters, they took the chance and carried on.
“We were held up for over two hours with paperwork regarding the rented motorhome and there was chaos at the Ukrainian border.
“I was worried before we got there because sirens were going off everywhere. I just wanted to go in, get her, and get out. I expected something bad to happen, especially since the Russians were celebrating Victory Day.
“We had to go to Ukraine because the driver who took my mum and grandma out was eligible to fight and was not allowed to leave the country.
“He didn’t want to take any money from me but was anxious to get the supplies back in time before the city closed and the shelling began.”
Ms Healy added that she was “very surprised” to see a 3km line of people entering Ukraine from Poland.
“I thought, ‘Why do people want to go back there?'”
The reunion between the three generations of women was very emotional after two months of constant phone calls to her mother since the invasion, not knowing if she would ever see her again.
In recent months, Luba’s elderly mother Nina has been pushing her own mother Galina in a wheelbarrow to air raid shelters and carrying her on her back to secure basement rooms.
Ms. Healy eventually persuaded the women to leave their hometown of Haivoron for Easter, promising that she would drive them home when the war was over.
At this point, Nina admitted she was terrified when local cemeteries were closed under threats of Russian bombs and terrified of what Russian forces might inflict on the nearly 100-year-old Galina.
“There were lots of hugs and kisses and tears when I finally saw her again. Nana kept asking if she could see my other kids who are back in Trim. It was so special,” Ms. Healy said of their reunion.
“But I couldn’t wait to get them in the cars, turn around and get out. I was afraid of what might happen and we had a responsibility to protect our son and friend as well.
“Nana was so tired from waiting that she was too weak to walk, so Eugene carried her from one vehicle to the next. She then fell asleep in the RV.
“She doesn’t look well, but she’s had a long journey and a tough couple of weeks. As soon as we get her home, I’ll take care of her like an egg, and so will my mother
“They already had an Irish meal. When we reached Poland, I asked a local gas station to reheat a series of dinners that the StockHouse Restaurant in Trim had shipped over with me.
“All the women and children will come to my house and stay with me until I can find them somewhere else to live.
“My grandma thinks she’s coming to Ireland for a few weeks, but we know she will only ever return home in spirit to be buried with my grandfather.
“Nana was (last) outside of Haivoron when she was in Crimea as a 28-year-old young woman and has never traveled anywhere else. She hasn’t even been to town in 20 years as she is frail and largely immobile.
“She helped bring guns to soldiers in World War II. She spent her whole life in Ukraine.
“Now she’s gone from it all, probably forever. All she brought with her was a pair of shoes, two pairs of tights, some dresses and some scarves – and her cane, which she got when grandpa died 13 years ago. But she still has her memories and we will make new ones for her in Ireland.
“I keep saying to my mother, ‘Can you believe it?’ I have to pinch myself to believe we’re back together.
“I drive back the long journey with a smile on my face. I can breathe again and I know I’ll finally sleep without nightmares. But even though I have my family safe, I will never stop helping everyone else in Ukraine who is not as fortunate as me.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/irish-womans-relief-as-she-rescues-her-99-year-old-grandmother-from-ukraine-after-3000km-rescue-dash-41634659.html The relief of an Irish woman as she rescues her 99-year-old grandmother after a 3,000km rescue sprint from Ukraine