Ukrainian mother and daughter rehomed at 40-acre alpaca farm

ukrainian refugees

Celeste Goschen (left) pictured with mother and daughter Masha Koloniei, 23, daughter Lisa, four and partner Sergei Grachev. - Credit: Kerry Wilmot

A mother and daughter from Ukraine have been rehomed at a 40-acre alpaca farm in the Suffolk countryside after fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.

Celeste Goschen and her partner Sergei Grachev, who is originally from Russia, decided to take in ex-professional tennis player Masha Koloniei, 23, and her daughter Lisa, four, as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme in to their farmhouse in Shipmeadow, near Bungay.

Mr Grachev drove across Europe to collect the pair who are now settling into life on the farm.


Masha and Lisa are still healing on the farm from the trauma of the war and Mika Lipman, Sergei's son (second right), recently left Moscow. - Credit: Kerry Wilmot

Celeste said: "Masha and her daughter Lisa are cousins of my partner, Sergei.

"We could see the war escalate and began work on her visa at a very early stage as well as her safe passage to the UK.

"It's slow progress but it's lovely to see them both start to come out of their shells.

"They still need a lot of time to heal but have interacted with some of the volunteers as well as beginning to explore the surroundings.

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"Everything here is incredibly different from their city life. It's a huge adjustment."

masha lisa

Masha and Lisa pictured together on the alpaca farm. - Credit: Kerry Wilmot

Celeste added that the mum and her daughter are still healing from the trauma of war.

"We are letting them open up at their own pace," she said.

"Lisa is only four and was becoming more and more fearful of the 'noisy bombs' - begging her mum to make them stop.

"They were living in the metro station for days before Sergei could organise them sanctuary in a monastery in Warsaw.

"There are some things they have seen which would not make for appropriate reading and we only hope that after a period of months that these memories will fade, at least for little Lisa.

"In Masha's words, 'I often wondered if there would ever be another tomorrow'."

She added that the couple will now be working with Masha to try and build a "bridge of communication" to help refugees arriving in the south east of England.

Wilderley - their home - will also act as a 'host farm' offering free short stays, days out, flights, alpaca walking, animal and holistic therapies to Ukrainians in England. 

"We will soon be releasing a guide to both hosts and guests in English, Russian and Ukrainian -working with a child therapist and Masha to ensure that the information for hosts will be valuable," she added.