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Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

New shop opens in Dublin providing free essentials to Ukrainian refugees 


By Sarah Finnan
25th Mar 2022

Unsplash

New shop opens in Dublin providing free essentials to Ukrainian refugees 

The shop is fully stocked with essentials including clothes, shoes, toys, toiletries, food and baby items – all of which are free for Ukrainian refugees to take as they need. 

A new shop has just opened on Clarendon Street, however, unlike other shops of its kind, the Palyantsya Centre is completely free of charge and was opened to provide essential goods to Ukrainian refugees who have just arrived in the country. 

Set up by local businessman Ruslan Mocharskyy, the idea was born from a feeling of powerlessness. Highly distressed by Russia’s violent invasion of Ukraine, Mocharskyy wanted to do what he could to help and set up the Palyantsya Centre as a way to make those who have fled their homes feel more at ease while here. 

A Ukrainian native himself, he’s lived in Ireland for a number of years and also owns a string of successful coffee shops – called The Art of Coffee – around Dublin. “Ukraine was a nice and peaceful country and everything was okay when I came here,” he said in an interview with The Irish Independent. Everything was brilliant and that’s the way I remember it. It’s so sad that at the moment you see this footage on TV and just can’t believe it.”

Mocahrskyy has had little time to devote to his business in recent weeks though as he’s been busy organising aid for Ukraine and pulling together essential supplies to send in trucks over to Poland. 

Finding that there was a huge surplus of clothing at warehouses there, he decided to set a similar collection point up here in Ireland so nothing would go to waste. “A month ago everything changed. My thought was ‘what can I do?’. In Poland, the logistic centres stopped accepting clothes. The idea came into my head – we have plenty, why don’t we give them to the people coming here, to the displaced Ukrainians that are running away from war?”

Housed in a former Toni & Guy hair salon, the building was given to him free of charge, and thanks to lots of help from friends, he managed to get things up and running quite quickly.

“Today I opened this shop with the help of Aviva Insurance who own it and gave us use of it, and my insurance man Alan Byrne from Thompson Insurance said they would cover the cost of the insurance. Even the people who made the sign for outside the shop did not charge us. It has been fantastic,” he added.

“Normally this would take two or three months to organise, but it all happened within less than a week.” Saying that he’s been “delighted” with the generosity of the Irish public and local companies who have donated items, Mocharskyy noted that they’re still short on new items.

“Instead of five second-hand items, please just give one new item. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but something new if possible, please,” he commented, later adding that everything from small toys to children’s clothing, baby formula and food are all needed. 

Already realising the potential for positive change that the centre has, Mocharskyy said that there are still more plans in development for the building, with talk of an information centre and free haircuts too, given that the sinks are still in place. He also mentioned the possibility of free medical care for those who need it – “But, that’s for next week,” he remarked.

“At the moment, today, the first-day opening, we just need to make sure it is running nice and smoothly.”

Ukrainian artist, Iryna Vlasova, has also volunteered her services to the project, greeting people inside and giving advice on what’s available for people to take. “I have relatives at home, so I would like to do whatever possible to help the people here,” she told RTÉ, getting emotional when asked why she decided to get involved. 

According to Ms Vlasova, many of the women who arrived at the shop yesterday didn’t want to take much. “They don’t dare to take all the things, like shampoo and shower gels, but I try to force them to take it,” she said.

Trying to establish connections with people who come in, she does her best to chat to everyone to see what they and their children need. “I can see they are sad,” she admitted. “But they are happy when they see there are people who want to help them.”

Other volunteers at the centre include Daria Moria, who arrived here on March 9 with her mother. Both helping out in the shop, it’s helped to bring a bit of normality to their days – especially to Moria’s mother, who used to run shops back home in Ukraine too. Her brother, aunt and cousins all remain in Ukraine. 

“I like to be in a crowd with people. I like to communicate, and this kind of work helps me to distract myself,” she explained to The Independent, adding that when she is in the hotel where they are staying they are always following the news back home. “I like to try to support my mother because she is worried. She worries a lot.”

“It’s difficult to explain my feelings because I try not to think a lot about it because if I do I will start crying and my hands start shaking,” she continued. “I don’t know how to express my feelings. When I start thinking or talking about it there is a mess in my head. I can’t explain what I feel. But it’s really terrible… 

“Sometimes I’m really sad that I’m here and a lot of people in Ukraine are not safe. And some of my friends, they still live in a basement to keep themselves safe. Of course we are worried and sometimes we don’t feel good because we are safe here and they are not.

“I try not to think about it and just live one day at a time because I don’t know how it will be in the future,” she said bravely. 

As for the most in-demand items? Moria noticed that most people come in looking for clothes and shoes. “When we left Ukraine, it was cold and we all wore warm shoes and boots. That’s why people try to find something lighter, like sneakers and lighter clothes, because we don’t have them.”

Ukrainian Ambassador, Larysa Gerasko, was on hand to greet refugees at Clarendon Street yesterday, extending a heartfelt thank you to both the Irish Government and the people of Ireland for their warm welcome and generosity. “I would like to express a special tribute to Irish people for their huge response and for their generosity and hospitality and kindness.

“The support is so huge and amazing and I am thankful to our Ukrainians who live here for their generosity to our newcomers; our new immigrants.”

Over 40,000 Ukrainian refugees are expected to have arrived in Ireland by the end of April. People can still donate to the shop and on the online idonate page for The Art of Coffee. 

Main image by Marjan Blan on Unsplash