Seven Ukrainian Young People Awarded Gaisce Medals

Gaisce Ukrainian Group Photo

Ukrainian Teenage Irish dancing Teacher Khristina Bodarenko Receives Bronze Award. The Presidents Award is Ireland’s National youth Award and is a self development programme for young people aged 14 – 25. It is a direct challenge from the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins to all young people to dream big and fulfil their potential.

The first awardee was Khristina Bondarenko (From Odessa, 17). Bronze Gaisce Award. Kristina has been teaching Irish dancing to Ukrainian children and adults in the Rathmines Ukraine Centre for the last year. (She learnt Irish dancing from Youtube while living in Odessa.) Last summer she received a special visit from two of the cast of the Riverdance Show. Kristina is a sporty young woman, since coming to Ireland, Khristina has played Gaelic football and hurling. She also loves swimming, zumba, running and ice skating. She studies English, Spanish and the ukulele. And she is also a red cross volunteer. 

Emma Volkova (From Kiev, age 16). Bronze Gaisce Award. Emma is a young school girl who has been studying Ukrainian and Irish education systems for the past year.  Emma created a series of articles for our social media about the differences between the Ukrainian and Irish school system from her own experience as her volunteering project. She also loves swimming and keeping fit.

Oleksandr Sikorsky (From Dnipro, age 17). Bronze Gaisce Award. Oleksandr has been doing aikido and kickboxing, learning German, Ukrainian and coding this year.  He has been volunteering as a chess teacher in the Ukrainian Centre, and in Ancosan, St. Thomas Church, Jobstown. He is also a Red Cross volunteer.

Pavlo Kostyanov (From Kiev, age 18). Bronze Gaisce Award. Pavlo has become such an essential part of the Ukrainian Action activities that he is now part of the management team. Pavlo has been there to help with translation, in the clean-ups, camps and lectures. He was there to participate in the Ukrainian Christmas concert. He has worked part time in Ukraine Centre Rathmines and has volunteered for many hours after work to help other Ukrainians. Pavlo loves to keep fit and he has also learned to play piano.

Damir Mirtalibov (From Kiev, age 16). Bronze Gaisce Award. Damir has been volunteering at the humanitarian centre for Ukrainians “Polyanytsia”, and he is a volunteer at the Irish Red Cross.

He has helped with translation at the University of Maynooth. Damir has attended English language courses in UCD, Dublin. He keeps fit by cycling to school.

Polina Maliuzhonok (From Kiev, age 23). Polina is studying in DCU full time in marketing. She also works part-time as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times. She has been helping the Ukraine Centre for the last year with articles, writing press release and making connections in Irish media. She does yoga every day.

Vlad Dzuba  (From Kiev, 25). Silver Gaisce Award. Vlad has been involved in organising events for Ukrainian Action in Ireland over the last year and he has been a huge help to the technical team. He has been involved with walks, picnics, celebrations, concerts, and urban cleanups. He has also assisted in translating for Ukrainian Action and packing humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

Pictured: Elizavetta Karamushke, co-director of Ukrainian Action in Ireland the curator of the group, Vlad Dzuba silver award winner Ukrainian Action in Ireland volunteer, Emma Volkova bronze award winner Ukrainian Action in Ireland volunteer, Oleksandr Sikorsky bronze award winner Irish Red Cross volunteer, Pavlo Kostyanov bronze award winner Irish Red Cross volunteer, Polina Maliuzhonok bronze award winner Ukrainian Action in Ireland volunteer, Veronika Mirtalibova (on behalf of Damir Mirtalibov, bronze award winner, Irish Red Cross volunteer), Khristina Bondarenko bronze award winner Irish Red Cross volunteer, Ger Brady Gaisce Development Officer. Bottom row, left: Samantha Briody, Gaisce Council Member. Bottom row, middle: Avril Ryan, Gaisce CEO. Bottom row, right: Vincent Teo, Gaisce Council Member.

Sarah Brooks

Sarah Brooks

Sarah has worked in marketing and content creation for many years. In her role at Newsgroup, she is the online editor of with a particular interest in local news and events. Sarah also works closely with our editorial team on our printed editions in Tallaght, Lucan, Clondalkin and Rathcoole/Saggart. If you have a story and would like to make contact please email Sarah at



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