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Tetiana and her children arrived from Ukraine with nothing. Now their idea has gone viral


By Amanda Cassidy
22nd Apr 2022
Tetiana and her children arrived from Ukraine with nothing. Now their idea has gone viral

Sow Now began when Tetiana Pankiv (39) and her three daughters Sofia (16), Marta (15) and Yana (5) fled their beloved home Lviv in Western Ukraine due to the ongoing conflict. They tell Amanda Cassidy their story.

Tetiana Pankiv and her host family had a vision. Sitting at the kitchen table of Jacqui Nabb’s home in Tullow, still shell-shocked by her and her daughter’s abrupt departure from their home in Ukraine, Tetiana admitted she felt safe but helpless.

“I don’t know what I should do here to help. I was safe thanks to the kindness of my Irish host family. My daughters were finally safe too. But it was so terrible to read the news of what was happening in my country. My parents, my sister, my husband. I was afraid for them. Jacqui saw how desperate I felt. She started the idea to do this project, to help all Ukranians”

The project is Sow Now and the aim of the campaign is to encourage everyone in the country to purchase sunflower seeds and plant them together on the 19th of May, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Irish Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal. Sow Now Sunflower seeds will be sold in Supervalu and Centra stores nationwide from 29th April.

It was a very scary time. I have never left my country before

The money raised will directly help the fellow Ukrainian men, women and children that they reluctantly left behind in Ukraine.

Nightmare

For Tetiana, it’s a small but hugely significant gesture that has also been a good distraction from the difficulties she’s faced in recent weeks.

“It was a very scary time. I have never left my country before. It was first time with my children. I describe it like a shock or nightmare. I arrived here and I couldn’t believe it. I came here with three children without anything. I don’t know anybody here at first. I came here in airport and I met a good man who brought me to Jacqui home and he says I will be safe here.”

The kindness of strangers has been the light in a very dark time for these families. Jacqui Nabb from Tullow, who offered Tetiana refuge, says it’s the very least we can do.

“I, like many other people had been packing donation boxes, baby boxes for the polish community. Someone I knew who worked in Dublin airport had met Tetiana and knew she needed home. They knew I was involved, but asked me did I know where she could go? My mother in law had sadly passed away. Her house is beside us and it was vacant except for use as a holiday home”.

Community

I feel so privileged to have Tetiana and her girls staying with us

Tetiana, who worked as a printing company manager in Ukraine, says it’s hard to believe this is happening in her country. “It’s been hard for my children, especially my youngest who doesn’t speak English. it’s hard for all of us but we are so grateful for everything. So thankful. It is amazing what people will do for others.”

Jacqui says the reaction to their appeal has been phenomenal; ” It’s such a simple idea. One of those ideas that has attracted the entire community. People are desperate to help, people of all ages – 16 to 80 want to feel they can do something to help in real and practical way. We thought we might be able to sell them at stalls at markets, or door to door, we didn’t realise that within two weeks we’d have 100 thousand volunteers. Everyone has lent their time for free, the PR, the printing, it’s been so kind and generous. For me, personally, I feel so privileged to have Tetiana and her girls staying with us”.

You are safe here

Along with raising funds for those struggling to cope with the displacement of the war, the initiative will also be a beautiful physical reminder of how we come together during difficult times.

“My long term vision” explains Jacqui, ” is that come September,  in every community, sunflowers will bloom. It’s a small tribute to those displaced to say when they see their national flowers all around them; you are welcome, we are standing by you, and we love you. You are safe here”.