GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCBD) – A Ukrainian woman is starting the next chapter of her life in the Lowcountry after escaping her war-torn country.
Irene Makarchenko is settled into her new home in Goose Creek with her daughter. Her life as a music teacher in Ukraine was turned upside down a month ago when Russia invaded.
Irene fled from her hometown in Southeast Ukraine in early March. Her final night at home was a scary one, as Russian forces were honing in on one of the largest nuclear power plants in the world – not far from where she lived.
Irene called her daughter Zoya Makarchenko that night.
“They had a lot of sirens going off, warning that there might be an airstrike, or something was going on. In the middle of the night, they announced the nuclear station was under siege,” explained Zoya.
The next day, Irene got on a train heading towards Lviv. All she had were the clothes on her back, an extra pair of shoes, some paperwork, and a few sheets of music.
As Irene described her journey in Ukrainian, her daughter translated. She said there were a lot of people at the train station including women and children. Irene said the men were trying to get their families on the train.
After a bus ride to Prague and multiple plane rides, Irene finally made it to the U.S., where she reunited with Zoya.
“To see her there in the airport, and she was there in one piece looking for me. I had to just kind of wave because she didn’t know exactly where she was going. That was a sigh of relief,” said Zoya.
Irene will stay in Goose Creek, for the time being. She looks forward to the day she can be back in Ukraine, making music with her students.
In the meantime, there is an online fundraiser for Irene so she can get a new piano. She hopes to teach her students virtually.