submitted by Rick Edwards and Elisabeth de Snaijer
Iryna and Sasha (mother, 49 years old/son, 16 years old) arrived at the Ottawa airport very early Saturday morning after traveling for several days. They fled Kyiv in March to live in Poland until they could determine what to do and where to go. Iryna worked 12 hours a day and Sasha attended school in Poland as they struggled to learn enough Polish to get by. During that time, a Ukrainian friend already relocated to Canada passed along to Iryna the name of a non-profit in Carleton Place (Ukrainian Diaspora Support Canada, UADSC) that had successfully relocated Ukrainians out of the war zone and into Canada.
Since we have two extra bedrooms in our house, we attended an informational meeting about the work of UADSC, and applied to host two or three Ukrainians. After an interview process, we were partnered with Iryna and Sasha to begin regular correspondence while they worked through the necessary documentation for coming to Canada. After both parties agreed to a ninety-day billeting arrangement, there was nothing to do but wait for their official papers to arrive. Their stay in Poland ended after almost eight months when the last of the paperwork came through, and their Ukrainian friend In Canada purchased airline tickets for them.
Iryna already has basic English skills and is studying and improving every day. Sasha is a little further along with his English and is registered to begin school at Almonte District High School this week.
Now that Iryna and Sasha are here with us in Almonte, we want to ask our generous Almonte community for some help as we try to support them through their transition to life in Canada:
- Iryna lost her phone while traveling; if someone updates their phone often and has a recent model they no longer need, it would be greatly appreciated; she has already bought a SIM Card.
- They want to rent living space in Almonte, something for two people near the downtown core (they have no car or license to drive). If you are deserting Almonte for the winter, perhaps a temporary arrangement could work out.
- Iryna needs to find employment, also near the downtown core. She is very friendly and enjoys interacting with people; we think working in a shop/store would be ideal.
- Since they arrived with only a suitcase each, they will need to fit up the apartment. Clean furniture items or other necessities in good working order will be much appreciated, especially if you are willing to donate or part with for a modest fee. We have rented a storage unit and have already begun to collect items for the eventual move to their own space.
- They expect to be self-sufficient soon, but if you wanted to offer a small cash donation, this could be brought to our house (address below) or mailed to us at P.O. Box 446, Almonte.
If you can help Iryna and Sasha in their transition to Almonte, please contact Rick Edwards (613.355.0167) or Elisabeth de Snaijer (613.256.0277), or stop by to say hello and welcome our Ukrainian newcomers at 157 Church Street in Almonte, yellow house, corner of Church and William streets.