Since arriving in Ireland, Ukrainian parents have made their children’s education a priority, even as they wait to hear news about family safety at home.
Coli Saidhbhín in Cahersiveen, County Kerry, has enrolled 53 Ukrainian students, 50 percent of the previous total of 103.
Principal Treasa Ní Chróinín is impressed by the strength of Ukrainian parents and explains how they simply want to make sure their children are happy, safe and educated.
“They always manage a smile, they stay strong for their children because the children don’t know what is happening, they just think they are on a journey,” said Ms. Ní Chróinín.
“When they arrived their immediate priority was the safety of their children and their education.
“I noticed that when they arrived they all wanted to know the school rules out of respect for us, which says a lot about them as people.
“I remember that after the children had settled in at school, I met a mother and asked her how she was doing.
“She told me that her son (18), her husband and her parents are all still in Ukraine and that she waits for the ‘We’re still alive’ text message every morning.”
Almost 6,000 Ukrainians are now educated in Irish schools, with Kerry (535) and Clare (441) being the two districts with the highest number of Ukrainian pupils enrolled.
Ms Ní Chróinín said the Ukrainian children were adjusting well to their new life in Kerry.
“I was blown away by the response from our own students, they were more than welcoming to the Ukrainian children,” she said.
“Six weeks later you would think that would have eased off but the children continue to be friendly and very inclusive towards the Ukrainian students.”
Scoil Saidhbhín previously employed seven teachers, but he has been assigned two more.
The school does not have an on-site translator and relies on the Ukrainian children, who are fluent in English, as well as on Google Translate and Duolingo.
The Ukrainian students spend an hour and a half studying English in the morning before going to class for the rest of the day.
“I would walk into a classroom and they are all happy, laughing and mingling well,” Ms. Ní Chróinín said.
The locals have also come forward.
“The fellowship was great,” said Ms. Ní Chróinín.
“One company, Siopashoo, provided all Ukrainian students with brand new uniforms.
“Parents find the uniforms very helpful in making the children feel as one.”
And another gesture was particularly well received by the children themselves.
“Another parent has given Easter eggs to every student at the school to make sure no child leaves without one,” Ms. Ní Chróinín said.