Scots man raising cash for Ukrainian refugee he met on trip to Krakow

A Scots man heartbroken by the unbearable pain of a Ukrainian refugee is hoping to raise cash for her family after meeting her during a holiday to Krakow.

Hairdresser Damien Parrish met Tetiana Kuznietsova, 30, last month after she fled from Ukraine with her three-year-old daughter Zlata.

The 39-year-old, from Dunfermline, was immediately struck by how much pain was in her eyes as he learned of her despair.

During the trip with five of his friends on March 18, Damien kept in touch with Tetiana and gave her the money he had left before flying home.

But after arriving back in Scotland he couldn’t stop thinking about the family and knew he needed to do more, so he launched a fundraiser.

Damien with friend Gavin on the trip to Krakow

Damien told the Record: “I had a few beers and I’m quite a social person. I went to the shop to get cigarettes and I bumped into her – I just started chatting to her.

“She explained she had fled Ukraine and she was instantly getting emotional. It struck a chord with me because I had never seen anyone look so sad.

“I was keeping up to date with the war before I went and watching everyone fleeing on TV but to see it in person you see how emotionally distraught they are.

“I added her on Instagram and we kept chatting during the weekend.

Damien and Tetiana in Krakow
Damien and Tetiana in Krakow

“On the Sunday morning before I left, I offered her the money I had left but she refused and she told me to give it to the Ukrainian army.

“I told her I didn’t have enough to help them but what I had left would help her. When I gave her the money she started crying.

“When I came home I thought what can I do to help? I’ve never never fundraised before but I’ve never met anyone that looked like they needed help so much in my life.”

Damien keeps in regular contact with Tetiana on social media and has so far raised over £900 of the £2,000 target.

Zlata sleeping in a basement in Ukraine
Zlata sleeping in a basement in Ukraine

Tetiana managed to get Zlata to Poland safely
Tetiana managed to get Zlata to Poland safely

She has now been sponsored by a family in Surrey and is applying for a visa to come to the UK.

Before the war Tetiana was working as a photographer and had recently been to Dubai on a photoshoot.

The apartment block she fled from has now been destroyed as ‘in one moment her life fell apart’.

Writing a post for the Go Fund Me page, Tetiana said: “Under the adrenaline raise I put clothes on my sleeping daughter, took documents, some food for my daughter for one day, took my camera and laptop.

“These have been accompanied by calls to all my family members. We all agreed to meet in Zhytomyr oblast in one house in the event if the network would be lost.

The apartments Tetiana lived in have been destroyed
The apartments Tetiana lived in have been destroyed

Tetiana woke up to a loud explosion the night she fled her home
Tetiana woke up to a loud explosion the night she fled her home

“It took us a day to make a distance of 100 km.

“Everyone was trying to get to a safe place. But nobody knew that it wasn’t safe anywhere anymore.”

She added: “I spent a week with my family in that village. Some bombs fell in my town, destroyed the airport, maternity hospital, the school of my nephew, the civil people’s houses.”

After a 24-hour journey, Tetiana managed to flee to Poland with her daughter, sister and nephew but the emotional trauma is still unbearable.

Damien the morning he left to go to Krakow
Damien the morning he left to go to Krakow

She said: “We still are afraid of loud sounds. We always look up when we hear a plane or helicopter flying in the sky in fear that it might be a danger like it was back in Ukraine.

“We are living now with the ‘survivor guilt’ syndrome. We feel safe here in Poland but there is no chance now to be happy and get any pleasure of the sunshine, hot coffee and an everyday possibility to have fresh food and take shower.

“Because our parents are still in danger in Ukraine.”

Damien hopes the money raised will be able to pay for Tetiana and Zlata’s flights to the UK with extra cash helping them with day-to-day living costs.

Donations to the fundraiser can be made by clicking here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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