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Dr Valeria is one tough cookie

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By Natalya Krasnenkova

Valeria Mashkovska applies make-up, manages a short hairstyle and looks like a Roxette soloist. Today she will go to a medical clinic to start taking in Ukrainian patients.

In Ukraine, Valeria worked as a family doctor and head of a medical centre. She is currently an assistant physician at a medical clinic in Killarney. She is preparing for an English language exam and confirmation of a Ukrainian doctor's degree.

Valeria moved to Killarney at the end of March with her two children, Hlib (13) and Veronica (21). Leaving Odessa was a real challenge for her as she had to urgently evacuate her children and herself when rocket attacks began on the city.

Valeria jumped in the car and ran towards the Moldovan border, the closest point to Odessa. There was no plan but to flee the war as far as possible to save her children.

All she managed to grab was a few things and put a knife under the car seat which was needed to feel at least a little bit safe. Of course, she would not be able to use a knife as a weapon.

"I completely forgot about this knife and crossed all borders with it. I can't even imagine what it would be like if it was found at a checkpoint or at the border. When I remembered about it, I was very scared. I left it in the kitchen in Sofia, Bulgaria,” Valeria says.

After crossing the border, Valeria's family took some time out to recover, and then became quite frightened because they had no money and nowhere to stay. Valeria moved to Bulgaria where she spent a week with the children.

Acquaintances in Sofia gave them housing, but not food. For several days they simply did not have anything to eat. Then Valeria got to the Red Cross, where she received some food. For several days, they have eaten only canned food.

"Nobody taught us how to behave in war, nobody prepared us to drive a car for 24 hours without rest, nobody told us to pay money in case of escape," Valeria added. “You have to do all this for the first time and you can't make mistakes and risk your children. You still have to take them away from the war. ”

To buy tickets to Ireland she had to sell her car. These were one-way tickets.

In Killarney, on the first day of her arrival, Valeria told me: “I need to come to my senses and rest. I'm terribly tired".

But in three days she started working. Valeria took a job as a waitress at The Killarney Oaks Hotel, all the time looking for an opportunity to be useful as a doctor.

All Innisfallen citizens know that we have a doctor that can be knocked on 24/7. Valeria is ready to help people, even when she is very tired after 10 hours as a waitress.

And now Valeria is standing by the mirror, straightening her hair and smiling. For several weeks now, she has been working as an assistant doctor in Killarney two days a week. For the remaining four days, Valeria works as a waitress and she spends all her free time learning English. She's a really tough cookie.

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Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes

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Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.

The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.

Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.

The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.

“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.

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Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate

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By Chris Davies

Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.

Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin. 

“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”

Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.

While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.  

This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.  

There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week. 

The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out. 

On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.  

However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.  

The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence. 

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