A Travelling Book to a Musical Star - Liza’s Journey from Ukraine to St Eugene College Burpengary


​At St Eugene College Burpengary, they have a special tradition of donating a book to a library in a different country when a family or staff member is travelling overseas. In 2019, the McDonald family took a book to a library in Ukraine whilst visiting family, which included their then 10-year-old niece, Liza. Liza presented the book to her school librarian, taking the below photo to send back to St Eugene College as thanks. 

Liza with Librarian in Ukraine (002).jpgAbove: Liza presenting a book from Australia on behalf of her family to her school librarian in Ukraine, 2019.

Fast forward to 2022, St Eugene College has welcomed Liza as a Year 7 student after fleeing the Ukraine war with her mother, sadly having to leave her father behind who was drafted to fight.

Despite this adversity, Liza is a positive and kind girl, enjoying her new life with her aunt's family in Australia. She is immersing herself at St Eugene College, after receiving a full scholarship as part of Brisbane Catholic Education's Refugee Support Funding. 

Liza with friends at St Eugene College (003).jpgAbove: Liza with friends in her Pastoral Care class.

​“We are blessed to have Liza here and be able to help this lovely family." said St Eugene College Principal Louise Olley.

“It is uplifting that a young girl who has been through so much, seen so much loss and destruction of her homeland, left her home and loved ones behind with just a bag, has been able to settle into the safety of Burpengary and comes to school with a smile on her face."

As a trained contortionist, Liza recently took part in an Arts Showcase evening, and starred as Ms Honey's gymnast mother in the College's musical 'Matilda', where she amazed the audience with her gymnastic skills.

Liza-In-Action (002).pngAbove: Liza is a trained gymnast and contortionist and has enjoyed performing at St Eugene College.

“Liza is so talented. I felt like I needed to cover my eyes at some of her twisting inside and out!" said St Eugene College staff member Jo Morris.

It is heart-warming to see Liza is doing well, making new friends and engaged in school culture, also working on healing. Whilst there is a constant yearning for news of the war ending so she can be reunited with her father, for now, Liza has refuge at St Eugene College and keeps busy with enjoyable extra-curricular events and learning English to better communicate with her peers and staff.

Brisbane Catholic Education currently supports 10 families with Ukrainian background, with financial and pastoral assistance available via our schools. We pray for peace and those impacted by the Ukraine war.​

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