Home   Medway   News   Article

Ukrainian teen living in Rochester raising money to enter dream art school in Paris


More news, no ads

LEARN MORE

A Ukrainian teenager seeking asylum in the UK is trying to raise money to fulfil her dream of becoming a cartoon animator.

Mariia Mashek has crossed five countries to get closer to entering a prestigious school, but her family cannot afford paying her £12,000 tuition fee – especially during wartime.

Mariia talks about how she was prepared to leave Ukraine if Russia invaded her country

The young artist arrived in the UK exactly two months ago, and lives in Rochester under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Originally from the city of Kherson, Mariia was studying Fine Arts at the University of Odesa, hoping to one day enter Gobelins, a reputable school of visual communication and arts in Paris.

She needs to raise at least £5,000 to begin her studies in France.

The 19-year-old explained she had to put her plans on hold when Russia invaded her country in February.

She said: "It was a really sudden decision to get out of Ukraine. It all happened really fast. My parents wanted to stay home in Kherson but my friend Olena and I already had our bags packed since a few days before Russia actually invaded our country. We could see it coming.

Mariia Mashek (right), with friend Olena in London. Picture: Mariia Mashek
Mariia Mashek (right), with friend Olena in London. Picture: Mariia Mashek

"We kept seeing a lot of news that Russian troops were getting closer to the country’s borders. So we packed our luggage and just waited.

"We managed to persuade my parents to leave with us because it was just really dangerous to stay there.

"On February 24, they immediately went to meet us in Odesa. It was a four-hour drive from Kherson. Olena, my parents, and I left Ukraine that evening."

She then travelled through Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, where she parted ways with her parents as her father found a job in Congo as an engineer.

Mariia and Olena, also 19, carried on with their journey, stopping in Italy and Germany, while waiting for their visas.

Mariia traveled throughout Europe to get to Rochester in April
Mariia traveled throughout Europe to get to Rochester in April

Getting settled in a new country, away from home and family, has not been as terrifying as she thought, but Mariia still finds herself missing home and worries for her family.

She said: "I guess what I miss the most is all the memories of my life back in Ukraine. How I spent my childhood in my hometown. I also miss my grandma a lot because she stayed in Kherson, which is now in occupation by the Russian military.

"She doesn’t have mobile connection because they cut off our network operator. My mum tries time to time to call her so she can find some internet on the street and they can speak to each other."

Now living in Acre Close, the young Ukrainian spends most of her time trying to find a way to afford her studies.

She said: "I’ve been planning to attend Gobelins in France since last December.

Mariia (right) has not seen her father in months as he now works in Africa. Picture: Mariia Mashek
Mariia (right) has not seen her father in months as he now works in Africa. Picture: Mariia Mashek

"I was finally given a place and I’m really happy about this, but the situation is really hard and I didn’t expect that it would be so hard to pay my tuition fee.

"So now I’m trying everything I can to pay it because it is €14,000 a year. And even for my father with a good job now, it is really hard to find all this money.

"I was given £200 by the Government and £50 from the Red Cross but I don’t spend this money as I want to try and save it to by my plane ticket to France.

Mariia dreams of a successful career, and maybe working at the Pixar Animation Studios in America one day.

"One of my favourite animations is Pixar’s Soul. I was so impressed and I can really understand why it received all the awards."

To donate to Mariia's fundraiser, Click here.

She added: " I really hope I can get there one day. This university would be the place where I can develop all my skills to do so. I was a really creative kid since my childhood. When I was maybe five, I always loved to paint and draw. It’s a really special thing to me."

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More