A Ukrainian mother and her six children who fled Russian bombing have been handed the keys to their new home. Lilia Onopa, 43, and her children received an official welcome in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, on Friday. She tearfully described seeing her hometown destroyed, people killed, and wanting to save her sons. Having fled their home north of Dnipro, where military strikes began in early March, Ms Onopa and her boys travelled to Bucharest, Romania. This was after attacks on the port city of Odesa made other methods of travel impossible. They arrived in the Monmouthshire town last week after waiting five weeks for the British Embassy to approve their online application.
At the gathering, they were given the keys to a bungalow, a former caretaker’s property which has been refurbished by volunteers from St Mary’s RC Primary School and church with donations from across the area. Ms Onopa said she was keen to learn English and has already enrolled in classes.
Having been a keen cook and baker in Ukraine, she said she would like to start her own pastry business, and wants to volunteer to help other Ukrainian refugees settle. She said her sons, aged between five and 15, were looking forward to beginning school.
Presenting Ms Onopa with the keys, Archbishop of Cardiff George Stack said: “This is an opportunity to say to our new family croesi i Gymru, welcome to Wales. The land of sanctuary.https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-61535188
“And we hope and pray that you will be happy and fulfilled and content as you begin to understand what wonderful people live and work in Wales.” Chair of governors, Phil Cotterell said: “Lilia and her family will not be alone, there is an incredible network of support here in Chepstow.”