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“Before the war, we had a happy life and big plans for the future”

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By Natalya Krasnenkova

Today (Friday) marks a full year since Russia's invasion of Ukraine which saw millions of people flee for their lives.

SPECIAL BOND: Viktor Balan pictured with his daughter Zlata.

Countries across Europe opened their doors offering safety, jobs and a place in schools for their children to settle and learn without fear.

This week the Killarney Advertiser spoke to Alina Balan who tells us about the horrors they saw and the heartbreak of leaving her husband behind to fight for the country's freedom.

Viktor Balan is now defending Ukraine in the ranks of the armed forces and Alina is now safe in Ireland protecting their children from the war.

Alina came to Killarney with their daughters Katya (13) and Zlata (6) from the city Vinnytsia in central Ukraine on March 24. They are currently staying in the Towers Hotel.

She recalls that February 24 last year turned their family's life upside down.

"From that day on, all our plans and dreams were completely destroyed," she told the Killarney Advertiser.

"Before the war, we had a happy life and big plans for the future. In Ukraine, I worked with documentation in an automobile company. My husband, Viktor, worked in a construction company and was actively involved in sports. Our daughters Katya and Zlata attended school, kindergarten and various clubs, and especially loved to do gymnastics. Our dogs Ricci and Busia were an integral part of our family. Every evening we had a tradition of gathering for dinner together and sharing events. Every weekend we went to visit our relatives and also travelled. Our family liked to lead an active lifestyle."

The Balan family still clearly remember the terrible morning of February 24. They saw explosions in the city, the deaths of civilians and the destruction of houses shown on TV every day. Alina’s husband could not stand aside and decided to join the Armed Forces in order to protect his family and the Motherland.

"Frankly speaking, my husband's decision was very difficult for me. But later I realised that he acted like a real man, a defender of his country. I fully support him in this difficult time for us," Alina recalls.

After her husband left for the war, it was very difficult for Alina to stay alone with the two children who were frightened by the constant sounds of sirens which, as a result, they experienced anxiety and stress.

One morning after loud explosions near the house where the Balan family lived, they decided to go from Vinnytsia. Alina understood that the safety of her children was the most important thing.

"In a matter of minutes I packed our whole life into three backpacks. We didn't even know where to go. Fortunately, my director invited us to her home. That's how we ended up in West Ukraine. But it was dangerous there too; the same sirens and rocket attacks."

After consulting her husband she decided to go to Ireland with the children. This also took some stress from Victor as he knows they are in a safe place.

"Now I only worry about him," says Alina.

EMOTIONAL

The road to Ireland was quite emotionally difficult for her and the children. Despite the exhaustion from the trip, Alina was finally calm, because they were safe. The family is lucky enough to find themselves in the picturesque town of Killarney, where they adapt to life. The girls attend school and spend a lot of time in nature with their mother.

Alina is interested in the history of Ireland and finds a lot in common with the history of Ukraine. She is impressed by kindness, sincerity and care of the people of Killarney.

"Wherever we turned, we were helped - this is impressive," added Alina.

"No matter where we are now, no matter how much we suffer due to separation from my husband, the main thing is - the greatest force in the world - love - warms us inside. During this time, we clearly understood that you can't postpone life for later. We need to appreciate every minute."

Alina's daughters miss their dad very much. They recently visited him in Ukraine during Viktor's short vacation.

"Honey, it's your birthday soon. We will remember most carefully the desire for the fastest victory. We love you very much, I'm sure we will soon hug you. We are proud of you. Ukraine is a great nation of indomitable people united for each other, for freedom and victory," Alina conveys her greetings.

 

Віктор Балан зараз захищає Україну в лавах збройних сил України, а його дружина Аліна захищає їхніх дітей від війни в Ірландії.
 

Аліна Балан приїхала в Кіларні з доньками Катя (13) та Злата (6) з міста Вінниця (Центральна Україна).

Аліна згадує, що 24 лютого минулого року перевернуло життя їхньої родини: “Починаючи з цього дня всі наші плани та мрії були повністю зруйновані. До початку війни в нас було щасливе життя та великі плани на майбутнє. В Україні я працювала з документацією в автомобільній компанії. Мій чоловік – Віктор, працював у будівельній компанії та активно займався спортом. Наші доньки Катя та Злата
відвідували школу, садочок та різноманітні гуртки особливо полюбляли
займатись гімнастикою. Наші собаки Річчі та Буся були невід’ємною частиною
нашої сім’ї. Щовечора у нас була традиція збиратись за вечерею та ділитись подіями
дня. Кожні вихідні ми їздили навідати наших родичів, а також подорожували. Наша сім’я любила вести активних спосіб життя”.
Родина Балан досі чітко пам’ятає жахливий ранок 24 лютого. Вони бачили вибухи в місті, по телевізору щодня показували загибель мирних людей, руйнування будинків. Тоді чоловік Віктор не міг стояти осторонь і ухвалив рішення вступити в ЗСУ, аби захищати свою сім’ю, Батьківщину.
“Відверто кажучи, мені рішення чоловіка далось
дуже важко. Та згодом я зрозуміла, що він вчинив як справжній чоловік та
захисник своєї країни. Я повністю підтримую його в цей нелегкий для нас
час”, - згадує Аліна.
Після того, як чоловік пішов на війну, Аліні було дуже важко залишитися самій з двома
дітьми. Від постіних звуків сирен діти та Аліна були налякані та пережили тривогу та
стрес.
Одного ранку після гучних вибухів неподалік будинку де жила родини Балан, вони
вирішили поїхати з Вінниці. Аліна розуміла, що безпека її дітей – це найважливіше.
“За лічені хвилини все наше життя я зібрала в три рюкзаки. Ми навіть не знали куди
їхати. На щастя, нас запросила до себе моя директорка. Так ми опинились на Західній
Україні. Але і тут було небезпечно, ті самі сирени та ракетні обстріли. Порадившись з
чоловіком, ми вирішили поїхати з дітьми до Ірландії. Моєму чоловікові
нарешті стало спокійно за нас. Він знає що ми перебуваємо в безпечному місці. Тепер я хвилююсь тільки за нього”, - каже Аліна.

Дорога до Ірландії була досить емоційно важкою для Аліни та дітей. Попри виснаженість від подорожі, Аліна була нарешті спокійна, адже вона та діти опинились в безпеці. Родині пощастило потрапити в мальовниче містечко Кіларні, де вони адаптуються до життя.

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Top 10 Essential tips for Leaving Cert Students in lead up to June 5

The final weekend leading up to the Leaving Cert exams can be very tough, as you try to balance last minute revision with much needed rest after a long, exhausting […]

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The final weekend leading up to the Leaving Cert exams can be very tough, as you try to balance last minute revision with much needed rest after a long, exhausting year.

The natural anxiety felt by students is often heightened by the annual media hype around the state exams and it is really important that you do your best to manage that stress effectively, so that you are ready to perform to the best of your ability once the exams start. The following tips may help to keep you focused and a little calmer in the lead up to June 5.

1. Review, don’t cram – Focus on summary notes, flashcards, or mind maps. This reinforces what you’ve already studied. Prioritise areas where you feel less confident, but don’t try to learn new material.

2. Practise past papers – Review marking schemes and time allocation for each question you will need to answer on each paper. Practise a sample of questions against the clock. This will maximise your scoring potential.

3. Organise your materials – Check the exam timetable and highlight your own exams. Prepare the stationary that you need, gather pens, pencils, calculators, and so on. Pack your bag the night before to avoid last-minute stress.

4. Maintain a healthy balance – Aim for 8 hours of sleep each night. Proper rest is crucial for memory, concentration and stamina. Eat well, include proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbs in your meals to maintain energy levels. Drink plenty of water, hydration is essential.

5. Try to manage stress – Schedule short breaks during study sessions and do something enjoyable and relaxing, like a short walk, playing or listening to music. Get fresh air and some light exercise. Use relaxation techniques like breathing exercise, mindfulness and meditation.

6. Focus on a positive mindset – Focus on your strengths and remind yourself of your preparation. Concentrate on what you know and not on what you think you don’t! Try to avoid negative self-talk and steer clear of discussions that heighten anxiety, such as comparing how much you’ve studied with friends.

7. Plan your weekend – Create a realistic timetable for the weekend, balancing study sessions with breaks and relaxation and don’t overdo the study. You need plenty of energy for the exams.

8. Stay connected – Talk to friends and family, if you are feeling overwhelmed reach out and get support from loved ones. If it’s helpful, have a short, focused study session with friends to clarify doubts.

9. Keep things in perspective – The Leaving Cert is important but won’t define you and regardless of what happens you have several options open to you. Try to reframe the media hype as the whole country getting behind you, for what they know to be a tough time for you.

10. Get Set for exam day – Double-check the venue, seating arrangements, and required materials for the day of the exam. On the evening before the exam, do a light review of key concepts but avoid heavy studying. Ensure you know how to get to the exam venue and plan to arrive early (at least 30 mins on the first day). Decide what you’ll wear to avoid rushing in the morning and have your water and snacks ready to go.

Above all else, give the exams your best shot! Once they are over you have a lovely ‘study-free’ summer and bright future to look forward to. Go n-éirí libh ar fad, the very best of luck to each and every one of you!

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Disability toilets for Killarney Library

Works to build new toilet facilities for people with disabilities should commence later this year. Cllr Marie Moloney tabled a motion at a recent Kerry County Council meeting. She said: […]

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Works to build new toilet facilities for people with disabilities should commence later this year.

Cllr Marie Moloney tabled a motion at a recent Kerry County Council meeting.
She said: “Application has been made for funding to the Department. As soon as the funding is approved, work will commence on the provision of Disabled Toilet Facilities.
“While ramps are installed for accessibility, it is unacceptable that any public building be without disabled toilet facilities in this day and age.
“I am aware of several people with a disability who constantly use the services of the Library and are very happy with the staff and the services that Killarney Library offers but are disappointed at the lack of disabled toilets.”
“I will be keeping the pressure on to have these facilities provided as soon as possible.”

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