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A Ukrainian mum now living in Dundee has told how her family spent two months hiding in a basement while Russian bombs exploded overhead.
Natalia Liamina says she “can’t put into words” how difficult the ongoing invasion has been for her and her family.
The 42-year-old, who hails from Kremenchuk in central Ukraine, was forced to flee the country in June with her 20-year-old daughter Maria and 14-year-old son Matvii.
The trio spent a month in Poland before coming to Scotland, where she is now receiving support from the authorities.
Natalia’s husband, Andrii, and brother, Oleksiy Bigdan, stayed behind to help defend the city.
She said: “There were sirens in our city.
“Bombs also came and it was very scary with the children.
“We lived in the basement for two months, but then we had no strength any more.
“I can’t put it into words. It’s pain, it’s fear, it’s horror.
“It’s constant worries for myself, for my children and for my relatives.
“It’s very scary to bury my relatives and soldiers.
“That’s why we decided to go.”
The mum-of-two, who worked as a beautician in her homeland, is optimistic despite her worries.
She thinks Ukraine will win the war, and has embraced her new home in the meantime.
She added: “We very much hope and believe that the war will end soon with the victory of Ukraine, because we are free and independent people.
“We are very similar in spirit to the Scots.
“I thank Scotland very much for the opportunity to be here safely.
“We feel care and love here. It is an incredible feeling when you are protected.”
Natalia shared her story at the launch of Leisure and Culture Dundee’s (LACD) new Ukrainian support scheme.
Refugees from the war in Ukraine are being offered 12 weeks of free access to swimming pools, gyms and Dundee Ice Arena.
LACD is also offering early years support, children’s activities, and Parklives and Steps to Health programmes.
A number of Ukrainian books have also been sent to Dundee schools and the Central Library.
A web page, which can be translated into Ukrainian, has been set up to introduce the scheme.
Moira Methven, chair of Leisure and Culture Dundee, said: “We are aware of an increasing need for relevant information and services for Ukrainian citizens arriving in Dundee.
“Leisure and Culture Dundee is focusing on delivering up-to-date, easily accessible information on what we can offer through a dedicated page.”
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