Starting a new life, beating cancer at 27, motherhood, and setting up ‘Mums the Heroes’
I came to England in 1999, arriving at Victoria coach station in the afternoon and tired from the long journey, but really excited to be studying English Language at the college. My diploma in Pharmacy and my letter, confirming my course, was neatly sitting in my documents folder as well as my coach return ticket with my money, around one thousand pounds, to pay for rent, travel etc.
Back home was my family; my son who was nearly four, my amazing mum, my friends and colleagues and my heart that I have left with my little son. I had no doubts that my life was taking a new turn on a new page.
From a tiny town in western Ukraine, having never flown on an aircraft before whilst also having a huge fears of aeroplanes, I was standing at the station, which to me looked like a giant centre of the city. Later on, seeing my tiny room in north London and meeting my flat mates was exciting too. In the flat was a German speaking girl, which made my life much easier.
Without any knowledge of the language, the only part-time job I could get was as a cleaner at the hotel..
Starting school the very next day was again a novelty and an excitement at the same time. Our first teacher, Chris, was teaching us a new language by dropping the pen on the floor, jumping up and down and that’s how we had learned our first words, and an alphabet.
Without any knowledge of the language, the only part-time job I could get was as a cleaner at the hotel through an employment agency. This was how I imagined my life in England would be but the room I was living in had to be paid for as well as the travel card, and I was so excited to be at school and learning many new things, I didn’t really mind. The new language was easy and soon I was able to speak English, slowly forgetting my German language.
I bought another six months at school, got my visa extended and started to work as a waitress. It was really good to mix in with all the people from around the world, attending all those amazing events, in which we were catering.
School was the highlight of my day – we discussed different topics, argued our point sometimes, and writing essays. Every day I grew more and more confident. I made different friends and learned about various cultures. A girl from a tiny town no more – London was becoming the home town to me.
My next challenge was when I walked into Holland and Barrett and got the job on the spot. In the Ukraine, being a pharmacist, I learned Herbalism, Homeopathy, and Nutrition as a part of the curriculum, and so all I needed to do was translate my knowledge into English. Also, we were learning and taking tests in all those subjects mentioned with Holland and Barrett.
I was missing my son beyond comprehension, beyond description. I felt like I don’t have a heart, as if I left my heart with my son. All this time I dearly missed him and eventually I flew back home to see him again as he was being looked after by my mum.
I was determined to confirm my diploma in Pharmacy…
It was beyond heart-breaking to return back to London. I was determined to confirm my diploma in Pharmacy. Once I found out that the fees were nine thousand pounds a year for an overseas student, I knew it was impossible to earn that kind of money working part-time.
In the second year, I had to look into the eyes of cancer, after a routine examination. Thinking that you might die at the age of 27 was absolutely shocking. With the help of amazing doctors I fully recovered, and was given the all clear after six months of tests, procedures and a successful operation.
Once fully recovered, I headhunted myself to a different Health food shop as an assistant manager. I was training to become a manager of a huge store. I had customers coming into the store looking for help, understanding, or even sometimes just a hug. Having experienced recovery after my unfortunate illness, I was giving the customers hope by example, as well as providing supplements or the herbs they were after. From all those people I have made lots of friends, as I generally love people and conversing with them.
I longed for a family, to love someone and to be loved. Therefore I joined an activities club and started going out. I was extremely lucky to find my soulmate. Ever since then I have never felt alone. After we moved in together, my older son joined me in England. My husband and I decided to have a child together. It all happened really fast. And before I knew it I was looking into the blue eyes of my baby son.
My older son has a disability, due to a poor delivery technique at birth and this made me feel that his study at school was paramount, so I was helping at his school. Since then I have given years of hard work to a few parents and teachers associations.
My boys grew healthily and well looked after. Having both of them was and is the biggest blessing of all, as well as my dear husband David. All three of them are my strength, source of my inspiration and joy. They are my biggest achievement, my biggest pride. They are the most important and precious thing in my life.
Every single mum out there is already a hero…
In the last ten years I’ve tried many different projects, including working for my husband. Yet each time I knew that my family was not ready to be self-sufficient and I could not allow anyone else to take care of my kids. I wanted to share each day and each meal with them. Now that my younger son is ten, I finally found my true passion, my calling and what my heart could beat for.
After an attending Inspiring Migrant Woman conference I was inspired to create ‘Mums the Heroes’. Every single mum out there is already a hero. Full-time or part-time working mums, stay at home mums, mums with disabled children, single mums – all of us are facing many challenges. I feel the need to celebrate Motherhood, to bring the conversation out about being a mum.
In our society that is mainly fair and just, mums are often overlooked, taken for granted and in my view not appreciated enough. I would like to bring about more awareness about what it means to be a mum.
I’m turning to a brand new page of my life. Once again I’m excited and thrilled for what the future may bring. Mums the Heroes is my new project and I’m willing to make it into a successful one!