I arrived in England at Victoria coach station on a winters afternoon in 1999. It was a very tiring long journey yet I was excited to begin my studies of English Language at college. My diploma in pharmacy as well as the confirmation letter of my course was sitting neatly in my documents folder as well as my coach return ticket and money; around one thousand pounds to pay for rent, travel etc.
Back home was my family; my son who was nearly four as well as my amazing mum. At home was also my friends, former colleagues and my heart which I left with my son. I had no doubts that this was the next chapter in my life.
Originating from a tiny town in Western Ukraine, having never flown on an aircraft before (whilst also realizing I had an unfortunate fear of flying), I was now standing at the station which to me looked like a giant center of The City. I soon saw my small room in north London as meeting my new flat mates and this was all very exciting for me. One of my flat mates was a German-speaking girl which made it much easier to settle in for me.
Starting school the very next day was another novelty yet exciting for me. My first teacher, Chris, was teaching our class the new language in a very animated way by doing things such as dropping a pen on the floor and by jumping up and down. This was how I learned the alphabet and my first words.
With very minimal knowledge of the language, the only part-time job I could get was as a cleaner in the hotel through an employment agency. This was how I imagined my life in England would be apart from constantly remembering to pay for the rent of my room as well as my travel card. However I was so excited about this opportunity as well as being at school and learning new things every day, I didn’t really mind the cost of living. The new language was quite easy to grasp and soon I was able to speak English confidently whilst slowly forgetting my German language through lack of practice.
I bought another six months of school, got my visa extended and began working as a waitress. It was great to mix in with people from all round the world, attending all those amazing events in which I was catering.
School was the highlight of my day- we discussed different topics, learned how to argue our points and wrote many essays. My confidence grew every day as well as making new friends and learning about various cultures. The girl from the tiny town in Western Ukraine was no more – London was speedily becoming my new home town.
My next challenge arrived when I walked into Holland and Barrett and got the job on the spot. In Ukraine, being a pharmacist, I learned Herbalism, Homeopathy and Nutrition as part of the curriculum which was very similar to what I was learning and taking tests in in Holland and Barrett. Therefore, all I need to do was translate my knowledge into English.
I was missing my son who was still in Ukraine before comprehension. I felt as though I did not have a heart, as though I had left it with my son. I was dearly missing him every day and as soon as I could I flew back home to see him as he was being looked after by my mum.
It was beyond heartbreaking having to return to London without him again. I was determined to confirm my diploma in pharmacy. However, once I found out that the fees for this was nine thousand pounds a year for an overseas student, I realized it was impossible to earn that kind of money by just working part-time.
In my second year in London, I had to look into the eyes of cancer, after a routine check-up. The looming thought that you might die at the age of 27 was absolutely shocking. However 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 store as an assistant manager. I was training to become the manager of a huge store. I had some customers coming in looking for help or even just a hug. Having experienced recovery from an unfortunate illness, I was providing customers with hope from experience as well as providing them with herbs and supplements that they were after. From all this I made a lot of friends as I genuinely love conversing with and helping people.
I longed for a family, to love someone and to be loved. Thus, I joined an activities club and began going out. I was extremely lucky to find my soulmate. Ever since then I have never felt alone. After I moved in together with my husband, my older son joined me in England. My husband and I decided to have a child together. It all happened so fast and before I knew it I was gazing 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 education was paramount, and so I helped out at his school. Since then I have dedicated years of hard work to a few ‘Parents and Teachers Associations’.
My boys were well looked after and so grew up healthily. Having my kids was, and always will be, the greatest blessing, as well as my husband David. All three of them are my strength, source of inspiration and joy. They are the most important and precious things in my life.
In the last ten years I have embarked on some different projects, including working for my husband. Yet each time I knew that my family was not ready to be self-sufficient and that I could not allow anyone else to take care of my kids. I wanted to share each day with them. Fortunately, now that my younger son is eleven, I have finally found my true passion and something which excites me when I wake up in the morning.
I have created ‘Mum’s The Heroes’. Every single mum out there is already a hero. Working full-time or part-time mums, stay at home mums, 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 and not appreciated enough.