Words by Smiley Team
Volunteers in a kitchen in Dublin have been welcoming Ukrainian refugees into the city by cooking some familiar foods.
Gourmet Shankill Cafe Restaurant in Shankill, Co Dublin, has been serving up some traditional Ukrainian comfort dishes for free to any new arrivals.
The volunteers belong to the UCCI, a group that only formed a few weeks ago in response to the war in Ukraine. Anatoliy Prymakov, who is from Ukraine and has lived in Ireland for 15 years, helps to run the UCCI.
“The aim is to get people out to meet other Ukrainians because many of them are stuck in hotels and don’t have any connections here yet," she said. "They need to meet others in similar situations and develop coping mechanisms and exchange information about how to get jobs and things like that."
“It’s to help get them away from the news cycle as well because lots of terrible things are happening back in Ukraine.”
On 3 April, more than 150 Ukrainians gathered in the Dublin restaurant to eat a traditional meal together.
For Anatoliy, the aim of the event was to help bring comfort to Ukrainians who had arrived in Ireland and may have no English or have trouble integrating.
One attendee, Anna Zilenska, fled Kyiv a month ago and has been staying with an Irish host family, with her daughter. Her husband had to remain in Kyiv.
“This is amazing," she told The Irish Times. "It’s really helpful to meet other people from home and share a meal together. It’s very hard. We miss home. It’s nice to be here with other Ukrainians today."
Another attendee, Bitar, has lived in Ireland for nine years and initially found it difficult to make friends and find work.
She confessed to finding the first two years “incredibly lonely” and said she could not imagine how much more difficult it would be for Ukrainians who were forced to flee their country and may not have any English.
“That’s why this is a good idea. A traditional warm meal makes people relax and gets them talking to each other”, Bitar said.
“I hope more things like this will happen.”
SUPPORT: Smiley News has compiled a list of nine international and local charities that are supporting Ukraine.
DONATE: Support the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) by donating.