Ukrainian musician raising her voice in Belfast studio to support family back home

Alisa Chekh is a young Ukrainian musician who hadn't sung a note since the war in her homeland began.

Now the 21-year-old woman has been raising her voice in a Belfast studio and sharing her story of a challenging exit from her family's home city of Kyiv.

Alisa had just moved into her first home when she had to make the painful decision to leave all she knew behind.

"I just woke up and I was feeling that I need to run away because it was too scary, too emotional to stay there.  That night I took my mum that I was leaving the country."

The young woman hitch-hiked, walked 30 miles and then found herself alone on the Polish border.

"I wasn't scared, I knew I had to keep moving forward but when I get to the border I stayed there six hours and snow fell.  There were thousands of people.”

From there she headed to the Republic of Ireland, where her family knew people.  

But it was a chance conversation in a restaurant that led a Belfast family to open their home to her.

"I'm thankful for all the people who have helped me and now I can just exhale."

Alisa had to say goodbye to her mum, step-dad and brother, who have all stayed in Ukraine.

She misses them every day and as she tries to recover, she wants to use her music to advocate for peace.

"I want to have the possibility to help people, when I have the energy to do that.  

“When war ends, Ukraine will be rebuilding, so I want to help with that.

For me it's a new stage of life, with new possibilities and new people but it takes time, alot of time to heal and to continue with my dreams."

Alisa is supported by Musicians Artists at Risk Resettlement Scheme.