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Choir of hope for Ukrainian women and children

[news] time:2023-06-06 09:59:00 source:ABC News author:news click:80order

Women and children from Ukraine who have formed a choir in Cornwall have told how singing helps them feel connected to their families at home.

After leaving Ukraine amid the Russian invasion, members of the Ukrainian Sunflowers are living with hosts across the county.

Many have loved ones in the war effort.

One member said: "We are singing for our families, to support our families, to give us a feeling of being united."

The choir, which took part in a vigil for peace in honour of British Aid worker Chris Parry, also performs to raise money to fund evacuation cars for Ukrainian civilians and wounded soldiers.

About eight million Ukrainian refugees have so far left their homes and travelled to countries across Europe.

Nataliia, whose husband is involved in the defensive at home, travelled from Kyiv to St Mawes in Cornwall with her son Oleksii, five.

The psychologist, said: "I came here with a mission and purpose... to show Ukraine is not a young country, it has all the roots and history.

"It's written in our songs, we'd like to share that, to show people the way we feel, the way our ancestors felt."

It's been nearly a year since Nataliia saw her husband.

She added: "It's really difficult to be separated but I'm doing here more than I can do over there.

"The first time I had to say goodbye I thought every day it was going to be the end.

"We are trying to keep happy, we have our plans for the future when the war stops.

"We want to rebuild Ukraine as much as possible and we want to share what we have with the rest of the world."

Kseniia, 42, travelled to Falmouth from Kyiv with her son David, four, and mother Liliia, 81, in May 2022.

For Liliia, the invasion and evacuation sparked memories of World War Two, Kseniia said.

Her own experiences of fleeing Ukraine were also traumatic.

Kseniia recalled taking David to nursery and then the hairdresser in Kyiv on the eve of the invasion, before everything changed.

She said: "We lived in the heart of the city centre, the next day we woke up early in the morning because of explosions and bombing outside our house."

After 10 days sheltering in the basement, they were evacuated by train to Budapest before making their way to Cornwall, Kseniia said.

She said the choir had been a "very empowering experience".

She said: "We are singing for our families, to support our families and to give us a great feeling of being united."

Olesia, 30, from Mykolaiv, lives with her son Teodor, two, in St Mawes.

Her husband is fighting in Ukraine.

She added: "The Ukrainian choir brings all the memories from being back home, because I sang in a professional choir in Ukraine and I like to sing and I like to spread everything we have.

"It's my spirit and I'm trying to remember everything we have over there and trying to stay connected with all my relatives."

Mariia, 13, from Dnipro, is staying with a host family in Falmouth, along with her mother Viktoriia, 38, and her six-year-old brother Timur.

She said: "When I sing it reminds me about my home.

"I want to tell the world that we need peace. Not only in Ukraine, in the whole world."

Amelia Whittaker's family is among those in Cornwall who have opened their homes to Ukrainian refugees.

She said: "These women are incredible, they are wonderful how they come together and sing when their country is at war.

"I think we as a country are also wonderful doing what we are doing to support them."

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(editor-in-charge:Press center5)

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