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Andrew works in Ireland as a healthcare assistant. As part of his FETAC 5 Healthcare Course he presented his own, very unusual journey from Latvia to a care home in Ireland. Here’s what he presented…
5th December 2014
My name is Andrew and I come from Latvia, a very very small country with a population of about one and a half million. Latvia used to be part of Russia which encompassed the Soviet Union. At that time, Latvia was a very developed country, with most of its income coming from wheat and animal farming. There was a strong sense of community and not too much class divide. A lot of our produced goods were exported but we had a good home economy.
I come from a wealthy family and I had everything I wanted as a child. My father was the director of the city railway station but I missed out on a lot of love as a child because I was four years old when my mother left home. My older brother and I were raised in an exclusive apartment by our father. This had a huge impact on my life to this day. I yearned for my mother’s love.
When I was seventeen I got married to a most beautiful village girl and she gave me two sons. We were a very happy family. We raised our children on our own farm and eventually we built our dream home.
During this time Latvia became independent and this had a massive impact on the economy and everybody’s lifestyle. There was huge change.
Our family farm fell apart and I became bankrupt. I tried to find other work to support my family but there was not enough income. This put a huge strain on the family and so I decided it would be for the best if I left the family home.
During my childhood, I wondered about a different life where there would be love and I began thinking about being in a monastery. The idea of being in this community of love appealed greatly to me. So, when I found myself in this position, I decided to seek this life out. I finally arrived at the monastery where I would spend the next four years.
After my first two days there, the head monk approached me and told me he felt I should stay for some time and he offered me the managing position on the monastery farm which was in a very isolated area. However, upon arriving at the farm I got a huge shock on seeing the desperately poor state of the animals and the farm itself. It was obvious that the people in charge had no veterinary or farming experience at all. I quickly realised that this was going to be a huge challenge. I was scared and unsure but I also knew that I could turn this farm around and make it a success.
After a while, it became apparent to me that the residents of the monastery would present far more of a challenge than the poor neglected animals and the run down farm. These people were destitute and outcast from society. There were alcoholics, drug addicts, homeless and mentally ill. I began teaching them about farming and animal care. It was a very daunting task but I knew it would also be very beneficial to them. So, our journey began, and after six months, we began to see the fruits of our labour. The farm was becoming a huge success, but more importantly, myself and the residents were reaping huge rewards both personally and spiritually. I became more confident and happy within myself because I was finally being accepted and loved.
After four years, the farm was very successful with a good income and healthy animals. So I felt my work there was finished and I asked the head monk could I make the transition to becoming a monk myself. However, he rejected this idea and told me I would not be suited to this life because he felt I would be wasting my true potential. He wanted me to get back into society and do some good in the world. He gave me his blessing and suggested I come to Ireland to start my new life.
Once again, I found myself faced with change but this would be by far the most challenging period of my life. I arrived in Ireland with my son. I had no English, no job and very little money. After fifty two hours of travelling through Europe by bus, we arrived. A friend had organised very basic accommodation for both of us, with one single bed and a small shower.
The first job I secured was in a vegetable farm. After five months of this work, I applied for a cleaning job in Kylemore for a private cleaning company.
After one year and four months, I applied for the position of care assistant and was successful. I had become familiar with the residents and staff and I realised that I had a natural ability to be a care assistant and that I would be very good at this work.
So, here I am today. I love my work, my colleagues and my residents most of all.
I am very grateful for the opportunity this course has given me / Fetac 5 / and I would hope that it can help to advance my career.
I don’t know what the future holds for me but one thing I do know is, that no matter what challenges I face in life, I will meet them head on, because they only serve to bring out the very best in me.
In conclusion, I would like to say a huge thank you to my teacher Linda for her encouragement and patience in bringing us to this level.
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