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We are Spynka – story of Iryna

After publishing Taisa’s story we spoke to Liubov. Now it’s time for Iryna’s story. Iryna is from the Western Ukraine. She had been working as a professor at the university in Ukraine. She devoted last twenty years of her life to teaching students. On June Iryna has started working in Spynka childcare center in Łomianki. She believes that one will always be young when working with youngsters and children.

SPYNKA – 100 childcare centers in 100 days is Fundacja Rozwoju Dzieci’s program for nursery and preschool age Ukrainian children in Poland. Spynka (Спинка) in Ukrainian means a spine or a chair’s back, in Polish spinka correlates with connecting things together.

Polina: Hello Iryna! When did you come to Poland?

Iryna: My son and I arrived from Ternopil on the March 6th. The decision to go to Poland was connected with the seizure of the Zaporoze nuclear power station. Together with my husband we made this difficult decision for us.

Polina: How has your everyday life changed since the outbreak of war?

Iryna: Now we live in Łomianki, satellite city of Warsaw, where we are renting a small room. In Ukraine, we lived in our own apartment. Therefore, it is unusual to live next to strangers and to rent housing. It is nice that these people are very friendly and attentive. Though it is hard to get used to new conditions and lifestyle. It is difficult to change the place of residence, especially when a part of your family remains far from you and your child. My son’s well-being, his life, his games, whether he will have friends or not, whether he is comfortable or not, completely depends on me. And this affects me. I feel that under the influence of all this I have been also changing. Gradually I get used to it, I start seeing the positive more often than before. I begin to understand myself, my son and other people better. Paradoxically the ability of “seeing with the heart” comes easier when there are more problems and pain around you.

Polina: How did you learn about Spynka and why did you want to work in Spynka?

Iryna: I learned about the training for educators from my friend Lesya. She decided to try herself as an educator. This was something completely new and same time very interesting for me. In fact, the training I went through was very inspiring and rich. The atmosphere was special, the topic was interesting, each participant was a personality. Afterwards when I was offered a job in Spynka, my answer was yes. And I have never regretted it.

Polina: What do you think how children benefit from being in Spynka?

Iryna: Spynka is a support for the Ukrainian children. For me being an educator for children is not a job. It is a pleasure and an opportunity to immerse myself in the world of childhood, to learn again to see beauty in everything, to be happy from simple things. Spynka provided an opportunity to unite Ukrainian children who have suffered misfortune of different degrees. It is difficult for children to accept the reality in which they found themselves. It is even more difficult for adults. Neither children nor we, parents, have ever been so close to war and its consequences. If parents fled to Poland from the war, then it is difficult for children to understand why they were separated from their friends, dads, families, favorite toys and noisy backyard. Spynka is another home, another family for the children. They are happy to join their favorite group every morning. And seeing their smiling and carefree faces is the best reward for us, educators. I want to see these sincere smiles and inquisitive looks all the time. I want to give them the love and affection of the whole world.

Polina: What do you get from working at Spynka?

Iryna: At the moment I feel fulfilled and in the right place. I like to work with children of different ages, understand their needs, and support them to reveal their talents. I like that after classes they go home with 100 percent desire to come back here tomorrow. It is important for me to work with people who have the same values ​​as me. In our team of educators, this is exactly the case. We all dissolve in the desire to make children happy and carefree, to create them a good environment for development. There is mutual understanding and support between us. We continue to learn from each other.

Polina: Do you remember any touching moment at work in Spynka?

Iryna: For me, it was very touching moment when three-year-old Dima, who had long been used to the fact that his mother stays with him. One day he walked in the room without any regrets, came up with outstretched arms and hugged me. It was very emotional for me. It was very tender and touching.

Polina: Iryna, why did you decide to tell your story?

Iryna: My story is probably special for me, because I experience my emotions myself. But I want to inspire all women who fled the war and ended up in hospitable Poland. I want them to have no doubt and believe in themself. I want to empower them to look for new opportunities for development and self-realization. I think we all should believe in a miracle. Because it is nearby.


Spynka is about people. Every day, their creativity, energy, and commitment create a safe space open to every child. This space is woven from stories told in conversations and on paper through drawings and poems. “We are Spynka” gives a voice to adults and children so that they can tell the world in their own words how they got to Spynka and what Spynka has meant to them.