Mum of three raising funds for those in her homeland
A Ukrainian woman said fleeing to Ireland with her three daughters was “a miracle” and now she wants to give back to her friends and family still in the war-torn country.
Tetiana Pankiv (39) and her three daughters Sophia (16), Marta (15) and five-year-old Yana are living in Tullow, Co Carlow, with their host Jacqui McNabb and her husband and daughter.
The two families linked up after Ms Pankiv met a man in Dublin Airport who said Ms McNabb might be able to help her.
The Carlow woman said there wasn’t a doubt in her mind about taking them in.
Ms Pankiv said she couldn’t be more thankful for Ireland’s support, but decided to set up a sunflower seed company called Sow Now so she can give back to those still in Ukraine.
The seeds are being packaged by Ms Pankiv and 40 other Ukrainian refugees who she met in Tullow’s Family Resource Centre, along with 200 other volunteers.
They are being sold in SuperValu, Centra, and some other independent shops from next Friday, April 29, with 100pc of the proceeds going to the Irish Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal.
“Not everybody is in a position to host but what they can do is sow the seeds,” Ms McNabb said. “I hear people say every day ‘the news is terrible I wish I could do something’ – and you can.
“You can get your seeds that have been packed by these Ukrainian women and the money will go directly to support their loved ones back home.
“Planting the seeds is a sign of solidarity.”
Ms Pankiv added: “Every woman who stays here in Ireland wants to support people in Ukraine and they want to feel useful – everybody wants to give back.”
She said finding a home in Ireland was “a miracle” because she doesn’t know anyone here.
“It was like a miracle because it happened so quick. I came here and I have a house and I’m safe, and Jacqui and all the other Irish people helped me with all the documents,” she said.
“The girls go to school and I and my children are safe and it happened so quickly.
“We have such a big support and we thank the people from this town. It’s very nice to feel this help from the people.”
Ms Pankiv still has many friends and family back in her native country, including her husband and mother.
“My husband is still there, my sister and her family, my mother, my husband’s parents are also there, they are still in our town.”
She added her husband is learning to fight in Lviv, west Ukraine, and although she tries to speak to him every day, there is always uncertainty about when she will get to speak to him next.