A teenage Ukrainian refugee is finding solace in Clare’s scenery as he and other come to terms with having to watch the war in their home country unfold from afar.
Yaroslav Shcherbyna fled Dnipro in Eastern Ukraine with his mother and younger brother at the end of March.
War in Ukraine broke out 10 weeks ago on February 24th, when Russia invaded.
Since then, millions of Ukrainian citizens have been displaced seeking refuge across Europe, with over 25,000 having fled to Ireland so far.
Close to 3,000 Ukranian Refugees are now in Clare – 2,000 in hotels, community centres and pledged housing, with a further 1,000 travelling here independently and living with family and friends in the county.
15-year-old Yaroslav Shcherbyna and his family arrived in Clare just over a month ago.
While initial concerns centred around safe passage to Ireland, sourcing accommodation and entering into education here, the focus has now shifted.
As Yaroslav and other refugees are beginning to adjust to life in Ireland, the mental strain of coming to terms with the ongoing violence in Ukraine is beginning to take its toll.
Yaroslav’s father, step-father and grandmother all remain in Ukraine.
He’s particularly worried about his grandmother, who lives in the Donbas region and is unable to escape.
Yaroslav says that he and other Ukrainian teens attending school in Kilkee are trying to learn how to balance the need to be kept up to date on the trajectory of the war in his country, with the anxiety of being so far removed from the events that are unfolding.
At school, they try not to talk about the aggression, however, he knows of a 14-year-old who escaped Boocha days before the atrocities which shocked the world were carried out there.
Thinking of the possible outcomes he and other may have faced if they hadn’t escaped is something which troubles him, but Yaroslav says the scenery in Kilkee acts almost as an anti-depressant as he learns how to cope.