A UKRAINIAN is inviting her compatriots and anyone in the Tavistock area to a special service and vigil in the parish church a week this Saturday, to pray for peace and thank the community for giving them a refuge.

Tatiana Kovalchuk, a married mother from Kiev and now Tavistock, said: “Saturday, February 24, marks the second anniversary of the Russian invasion. We, Ukrainians, must stand strong and be together on this somber day. Be together, to honour those who sacrificed their lives to defend our country from evil. Be together, in our sorrow, in our hopes, and in our prayers for peace.

“Father Matthew and the parish of St Eustachius Church kindly invite you to a vigil service to pray for Ukraine and for peace in our country on the 24th of February at 6pm. We would be deeply grateful to all who wish to attend the service and stand with us on this solemn occasion, offering prayers for peace in our country and our world.”

She added “None of us Ukrainians who arrived in Tavistock in the spring of 2022 anticipated that the war would endure for more than a mere couple of months. None of us foresaw the extent to which it would shatter our lives and upend our world. So many families separated, for the first time. So many children sobbing into the night, longing for their fathers, schools and friends. So many mothers, consoling them, assuring that this is just a short break, just a temporary refuge, just one more month until we can return home. Despite the wounds of war we carried within, we found solace in knowing that here all will be well.

“In Tavistock, there is all for us, the warmth and compassion of the British people, the secure and enriching environment accessible to all, and the serene beauty of nature outside. I want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Tavistock community for the unwavering extended to us, for embracing us into your lives, for making us feel part of this remarkable community.

“Just one more month, we thought – but it has been two years now. Our children are thriving in local schools, nurtured, supported, and loved. As they play with their British peers, they blend seamlessly, the majority speaking fluent English.

“Their mothers have fully integrated into local communities, undertaking vital roles: some caring for the elderly in care homes, many working as hairdressers, housekeepers, waitresses and some even launching their own businesses. Yet, if you were to inquire about their deepest dreams, they would all answer – for the war to cease and for us to return home.”

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