Express & Star

Ukrainian family overwhelmed by the kindness of the Black Country community

Escaping the horror of the war in Ukraine takes people into a world of uncertainty and anxiety.

Ukrainian Ohla Janik, who is now living in Brierley Hill

But for one determined Ukrainian woman who has settled in the Black Country it has opened up new opportunities and she has been overwhelmed with the kindness shown.

Olha Janik, her son Ivan and her mother Zoea have begun a new life in Brierley Hill after their country was invaded by Russian forces which sparked an exodus of refugees across Europe.

The welcome they have received prompted an emotional response from Olha, who said: “I would say that God loves my family because he always connects me with people with a kind heart.”

Olha and Ivan on a day out

For Olha her journey began a year before the war to come and work alongside her then partner just before the war started.

Unfortunately, the relationship broke up and she was left living alone in Dudley as the war clouds gathered in her homeland.

She was forced to watch as her country was ravaged while her family were still in their home city of Lutsk in the west of the country.

It came under fire from the Russians during the invasion, which prompted the family to flee.

Ukrainian Ohla Janik and family

Her mother and 11-year-old Ivan arrived in March last year after first an agonised wait at the Polish border and then being looked after by a Polish family while Olha desperately complete the paperwork necessary for them to join her in Brierley Hill.

Her documents at the time did not allow her to bring the family to the UK.

Since then, Olha, who has a master’s degree in finance in her own country and worked for a bank, has found employment in local retail, while her son has settled down at his new school, Brockmoor Primary, in the town.

Like many who come to this country, she apologises for her English, on the contrary, she is a very eloquent speaker.

Ivan working in the garden of his Brierley Hill home

She said: “When we arrived here the hardest part for my son was the language. We found him a nice school, but from the first day it was scary for him because he could not communicate with the other kids because his English was very basic.”

It turns out Ivan is a talented swimmer and his dream is to be a champion swimmer and recently took part in a competition.

His mum said: “He wants to become a champion in swimming, it’s his dream.”