Ukrainian man who visited Ireland as part of the Chernobyl Project reunited with Irish 'family'

ireland
Ukrainian Man Who Visited Ireland As Part Of The Chernobyl Project Reunited With Irish 'Family' Ukrainian Man Who Visited Ireland As Part Of The Chernobyl Project Reunited With Irish 'Family'
Yaroslav Sydoryshyn, pictured with his wife, Tanya. Photo: Seamus Farrelly
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Louise Walsh

A Ukrainian Instagram influencer was instrumental in helping an Irish woman track down her Chernobyl 'brother' after nearly two decades and bring him home from the war-torn country.

Jennifer Drum (38) had messaged over 50 people with the same surname as Yaroslav (Yaro) Sydoryshyn, who had spent summers at their home in Co Meath as part of the Chernobyl Project.

It was a Ukrainian influencer who had 75,000 followers who finally gave Jennifer the lifeline she longed for by linking her to Yaro's wife's page, which led to the incredible journey back to Moynalvey, Summerhill.

Even though they had not seen each other in almost 20 years, Yaro still had treasured pictures taken when he was a child with his Irish family when he finally arrived in Dublin last weekend.

"My Mam and Dad, Yvonne and Alex Miller, opened their home at Johnstownbridge to Yaro in 2001, and every summer for about four years as part of the Chernobyl project," Jennifer said.

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"He stayed with us from when he was about nine to 13 years of age and we treated him as part of the family.

"Even though he never spoke English, we were always able to communicate with him.

"We often thought about him and a few weeks ago, just as the Ukraine invasion started, Mam found one of the letters that his parents used to send us to let us know he was OK.

"I decided to try and find him, so I started copying and pasting the letter in messages to everyone I could find on Instagram with the same surname as him. I found out quickly that it was such a common surname that it was like messaging the name Murphy in Ireland."

Influencer

"Amazingly, an influencer I messaged with the similar surname of Sydoryshyna knew of the family and put me in touch with Yaro's wife, Tanya. Anastasia, the blogger, was no relation and had 75,000 followers.

"I had to use Google Translate because they have no English, but I quickly found out that his work in Kyiv as a plasterer had dried up due to the war and he had no money to leave the Rivne District where he was living in a small village.

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"His wages were €500 a month, so you can imagine how grateful they were when I sent over €100 to help him leave for Poland. They were crying with relief because I had given them another option and a chance for their three young children," Jennifer said.

"He is so proud and didn't want to take my money or take on refugee status. He even killed all his livestock before he left and gave them to his family and friends so they would have food.

"He was so worried at how he would be treated at the border but was overwhelmed by the kindness shown to him and his family.

"We met them at the airport on Saturday and it was like seeing the little boy Yaro getting off the plane again - even though he is now 31-years-old.

"He was so relieved to be here and brought pictures with him that he had kept all these years of his time here with my family.

We never thought when we dropped him off at the airport for the last time when he was 12, that we would be rescuing him from a war 20 years later.

"I'm lucky that I have a converted attic with two spare rooms to give them, and my husband Jordan, who is an insulator, will be able to offer him a job.

"He and Tanya have three kids who are six, four and one, and it will be so good for my own kids to interact with them because they are thankful and mindful for everything they get. I brought [the children] to Smyths and their eyes just lit up.

"They didn't even know what a toaster or tumble dryer was when they got here and they are constantly thanking us for our help."

"We never thought when we dropped him off at the airport for the last time when he was 12, that we would be rescuing him from a war 20 years later.

"My parents opened their home to him back then and now it's my turn to open my home to him and his family for as long as they need."

"We set up a GoFundMe page for donations to bring [Yaroslav] to Ireland has reached over €4,000 and any more donations will be sent to help other families," Jennifer added.

Donations can be made to the fundraiser at https://www.gofundme.com/f/yaroslav-and-family.

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