We fell in love with Ireland, says a young couple who fled a war-torn town in Ukraine

As they sat in their adopted home of Donegal last week, a Ukrainian couple heard the sound of a helicopter overhead and it reminded them of the night they thought they were going to die.

ax Khrusin and his fiancée Dasha Kolmykova (below) lived in the city of Kharkiv, one of the areas hardest hit by Russian troops after February’s invasion of Ukraine.

As Max and Dasha sought refuge with their families in an air raid shelter on another night of bombing, they saw an online message from an Irish couple offering to provide a home to anyone fleeing the violence.

Max responded to the message and after an arduous five-day journey, they finally arrived on March 20th at Dennis and Mary Clare Rooney’s Buncrana home, where they have lived ever since.

Speaking of sunday independent, Dasha said they are so grateful for the support they have received in Ireland – but are desperate for their families in Ukraine.

The world recently turned its attention back to the Kharkiv region, just a few kilometers from the Russian border, after it was revealed that Ukrainian forces had recaptured towns and villages in the area previously held by Russian troops.

However, there are no signs that the war will end anytime soon, and Max and Dasha believe that their families and friends in Kharkiv remain in grave danger.

“We pray for them and we are stressed about them. We send them money and food packages when we can,” Dasha said.

“Kharkiv has been without water and electricity for three days recently so it’s very difficult for them, but I think a lot of people have gotten so used to it because they’ve been in a war zone for so long.”

Though they escaped, the scars of Max and Dasha’s experiences remain. “Yesterday there was a helicopter over Buncrana. I think it helped with a search, but when we heard the sound it reminded us of the nights in Kharkiv after the war started,” she said.

An estimated 50,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Ireland since the Russian invasion began.

Max (32) lived with his mother in Kharkiv and Dasha (25) with her grandmother, while their parents lived in another part of the city, which is normally home to around 1.4 million people.

After the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian government said that all men between the ages of 18 and 60 must join the army to fight the Russians, but Max was unable to do so due to a disability.

As they escaped to the bomb shelter, they saw the message from Dennis and Mary Clare.

Max read the message in Kharkiv and responded by telling Dennis and Mary Clare they wanted to escape the war and feared they had “just been left alone to die”.

On March 15, the couple quickly packed up and said an emotional goodbye to their families.

They made their way to Kharkiv’s main train station and boarded a train with the final destination of reaching the city of Uzhhorod in western Ukraine, from where they could cross the border into Slovakia.

However, when they finally reached Uzhhorod, they were denied permission to cross the border because Max did not have the necessary documentation to prove his disability and was told he would have to attend a medical examination. The couple could not enter Slovakia and had no place to stay.

“There were so many people there, many were crying. I prayed day and night. The next two days I just sat at the train station while Max queued all day before military service to get a certificate for the border guards,” Dasha said.

Eventually they were able to cross the Slovakian border and fly to Ireland. Six months later, life is so much better for the young couple.

Dasha recently secured her first job after sending out “around 200 resumes”. Both had successful careers in Ukraine.

Max, who has a degree in Systems Analyst Engineering, was the head of marketing at his company, while Dasha also worked in internet marketing.

She now works as a Marketing Manager for a local company. Max continues to look for work and if he finds employment they hope to move into an apartment or house.

They are very grateful for the support they have received in Ireland.

“We are so grateful to Dennis and Mary Clare for giving us this opportunity and we are so fortunate. We had a brilliant experience in Ireland and everyone was so nice to us,” said Dasha, who hopes her family can join soon.

“We really want to see our families, but they still can’t leave Ukraine. Max’s mother doesn’t want to leave her dog behind. My parents want to leave Ukraine, but men are not allowed to leave the country, so my father has to stay.”

The young couple believe their future lies in Ireland.

“I have very bad memories of the war and I don’t think we will return to Ukraine,” Dasha said.

“I love Ireland and it has been so good for us.”

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/we-have-fallen-in-love-with-ireland-say-young-couple-who-escaped-from-war-torn-city-in-ukraine-41997384.html We fell in love with Ireland, says a young couple who fled a war-torn town in Ukraine

Fry Electronics Team

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