A UKRAINIAN family who fled the war and came to live in Kilmacrennan welcomed the arrival of their new baby girl on Christmas Eve.
Just days later in their home city of Kherson a hospital maternity ward was shelled by Russian forces.
The Bielash family are from Kherson, a city in Eastern Ukraine which was taken by Russian forces on the second day of the invasion.
Kherson was liberated in early November but Russian forces have begun to relentlessly bombard the city with mortar shellings in recent days.
On Tuesday Ukrainian officials confirmed the shelling of a hospital maternity ward in the city, thankfully no one was hurt as staff and expectant mothers took shelter nearby.
Vitalii Bielash, his pregnant wife Katerina and their two young children fled war torn Ukraine to seek refuge in Ireland in early August.
Little baby Angelina was born on December 24, Christmas Eve.
She came home to meet her brother and sister on Christmas Day.
Many of the couple’s family and friends are still in Ukraine.
Katerina’s grandmother was living with them before they fled but she stayed in Kherson with her son.
She no longer lives in their home as it has become too dangerous.
During a recent shelling their home was hit, but thankfully the mortar shell did not explode.
When the young family arrived in Ireland they spent one night in City West in Dublin before moving to Donegal.
They have lived in the Village Court apartments in Kilmacrennan since moving to the county; the newly renovated building which was formerly the Village Tavern now hosts 35 Ukrainian refugees.
Katerina explained that all of the Ukrainians living together in the Kilmacrennan apartments have developed a great friendship and become “one big family”.
She then went on to explain how important family is when dealing with trauma.
The family recently moved from a smaller one bedroom to a more spacious two bedroom apartment in preparation for the arrival of their new baby.
There was great excitement on Christmas Day as seven-year-old Volodymyr and two-year-old Viktoriia got to welcome their new baby sister home.
Toddler Viktoriia is over the moon and has spent every day playing with her new little sister.
Katerina praised the hard working staff in the maternity unit in Letterkenny University Hospital, she said that “everyone was so nice” during her stay.
Since their arrival in Donegal, Katerina said they have met “so many kind people” who have helped and supported them.
Their son Volodymyr is settling well in his new school and he has made lots of new friends. Katerina said he was thrilled to have been invited to his classmate’s birthday parties.
Before fleeing Ukraine Katerina worked as a hotel receptionist and Vitalii worked in a factory.
Vitalii is currently on the hunt for a job, but it has proven quite difficult, he explained.
Katerina boasted his many talents including working as a painter.
He is currently attending English language classes in the old school in Kilmacrennan and has made a lot of progress since starting.
The Bielash family are grateful for everyone’s support but they are looking forward to returning home to Ukraine once it is safe to do so.
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