‘Every morning I wake up thinking, ‘Am I going to call them? Are they alive? Were they bombed?

A Ukrainian woman living in Newtownmountkennedy has spoken of the daily anguish she feels as her parents remain in the bombed area of ​​Zhytomyr in Ukraine to care for children unable to leave an orphanage.

anya Antonova, from Zhytomyr, said that every morning she called them as soon as she woke up to make sure they were still alive.

The unpredictable circumstances of the war have put unimaginable stress on Tanya’s parents, Svitlana and Mihaylo, who are still trying to keep the orphanage running with reduced staff, the daily threat of bombings and the recent diagnosis from Svitlana’s Parkinson’s disease.

“They currently have no quality of life,” Tanya said. “The city (Zhytomyr) is bombarded every day.”

She added: “Every morning I wake up thinking, ‘Am I going to call them? Are they alive? Were they bombed?

“It’s awful, it’s just awful. I feel anxious, I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I can’t talk to friends, I can’t work – it’s like a hole black.

The Zhytomyr region lies just west of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and more than 40 rocket and air attacks have been reported to hit the area in the past two weeks. Local utilities manage to keep water and heating on, but fighting continues to escalate as Russian forces move towards nearby kyiv.

Tanya’s parents, Svitlana and Mihaylo, have been running the Zhytomyr Regional Baby House for 26 years. It is home to 62 children.

This includes 16 infants under the age of one and a large majority of children have disabilities such as Down syndrome and cerebral palsy.

Fortunately, the house is located outside the city, which avoided the damage caused by the bombings, and on March 7, 35 children were evacuated with half of the staff to the far west of Ukraine.

Tanya’s parents, former doctors, stayed on as they felt they had a “duty of care” to the children who were unable to leave. With half the staff gone, volunteers stepped in to help and the young children were placed in a temporary space in the basement of the orphanage.

“Volunteers try to help as much as they can,” Tanya said. “They run the kids up and down from the basement every day.”

“The staff are leaving, which is understandable. The staff who left had very difficult lives, which they now spend most of the time in a bunker. They are extremely scared when asked to be able to take care of the children and take care of them.

She added: “I wish I could go to Poland and bring my parents to Ireland, but they won’t go because they have a responsibility.”

With no way to get to the orphanage and no sign that her parents could evacuate, Tanya decided to help out by organizing an online fundraiser for the orphanage.

The response from the Irish was overwhelming.

“I knew the orphanage was not a priority in terms of resources, and they were in dire need of medical supplies because of the children,” Tanya said.

‘”I set up the campaign to ensure an adequate life for children and staff.”

Tanya’s goal was to raise €30,000. In 10 days, people have already donated over €22,000.

“People have been so generous,” she said. “The Irish are so generous.”

You can read more about Tanya’s fundraising campaign and keep up to date with her parents’ story at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-orphanage-in-my-native-town -zhitomyr-ukraine

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