Mykola is from Kalanchak in the Kherson region of Ukraine, where he worked as a civil engineer, and in his retirement, a beekeeper. He and his wife are now living in Saltcoats.

Kalanchak is the most northern point of Crimea, basically on the border to Crimea. From the start of the war, from the 24th February, we were under Russian occupation. So, on day one, we saw Russian tanks in our garden and we didn’t understand what is happening.

Russian soldiers were getting into people’s homes. They were kicking them out and occupying the homes. That’s the reason we couldn’t stay there any longer, because the full area was under occupation.

Mykola had lived in Kalanchak all his life.

We were living under occupation for five months, and then we decided to get away from there. So we were trying to use different means of transport to get out of there. On the way out we were seeing the fights between the Ukrainian and Russian army and it was a very terrifying picture, not a nice thing to see.

At the time of writing, the territory is still under Russian occupation.

Mykola and his wife fled first to Poland, where their daughter lives. They then travelled to Scotland under the Super Sponsor scheme.

We were living on the MS Ambition for 5 months and then the Scottish Government has arranged for us to move to Saltcoats. We are very happy with the accommodation we have been provided.

I would like to say my appreciation to Scotland for all the support and care. We didn’t expect social housing, we are both pensioners and did not expect to receive so much support and help. We are living in very good conditions and really appreciate everything you have done for us.

They have been exploring Scotland, and getting involved in their local community.

We like to travel a lot. Me and my wife have been going to museums and nice places in Glasgow. We really like this country, it’s a beautiful country.

We have started English classes. I’ve started volunteering in the community gardens in Ardrossan. I will be doing beekeeping. I’ve been a beekeeper in Ukraine for 15 years. I really like this profession.

I am a civil engineer by profession. I started to do beekeeping not long before I reached pension age. I’ve got my own garden for the bees. I’ve got around 50 hives, a platform and I really enjoy doing this.

I would like to say my appreciation towards the Council, Lucy and Callum, Scottish Government, everybody who has taken care of us, accepted us and greeted us with open hearts.

Chris Afuakwah
Author: Chris Afuakwah