Hello my dear friends and well-wishers!

My name is Olga Dybenko; I am from Ukraine, Cherkasy, which is located in the middle of the country, 180 km from Kyiv. I am 39 years old. I have three children in my family, 13, 8, and 3 years old. My husband is the owner of a famous IT recruiting companies AOG jobs and Talent Scan. We are native Ukrainians. We were born here, and our children were raised here. We love traveling and spend a lot of time visiting other countries. But we are returning to Ukraine all the time as it is our family’s land. It has beautiful nature, friendly people and this country gives us good possibilities for working, and we help Ukraine develop.

Us one day before the war started

Despite the primary income we received from IT, we planted food in the village for our family (potato, cabbage, beetroot, carrot, corn, watermelon, sweet potatoes, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and different fruits and greens). Planting food by ourselves allowed us to eat eco food from the garden. As we lived in the big city Cherkasy our village life was our weekend pass time and spring-summer holidays.

In Cherkasy, our older daughter Kate who is 13, attended a swimming pool with our smallest kid. It was a perfect activity for them to keep their body healthy and fit. They have been preparing to take part in the competition this year.

My middle daughter, who is 8years, has gone to ballet classes for more than five years. She took part in different competitions showing promising results, and loved what she was doing. To keep herself fit, she has to continue training every day. We left several very nice ballet tutus in the ballet school, hoping she will have a chance to dance this year again.

On the 22nd of February, I had a birthday. My husband and I went to the Carpathian mountains to ski and snowboarding and met our friends there. On the 24th our relatives phoned us and informed us that the war in Ukraine had started. We asked relatives and friends to help move children out of the city, and on the 27th of February, we had a long trip home from the western part of Ukraine to the middle. We had train tickets for that date as tickets for wintertime people have to buy much in advance. What we’ve heard in the news was shocking! Our train had a direction to Kyiv, and usually from Kyiv, we went by shuttle taxi. On the 27th of February, the train to Kyiv was delayed for 40 minutes, and when it came, it was empty and with no numeration and several train conductors. We had to jump into it very quickly as the stop was less than 3 minutes. Before coming home, we understood that our ski equipment and winter clothes in bags were weighty, and we left everything in the Nova Poshta Office, took only hand luggage, prayed to get home safe, and jumped into the train. On the train there was no staff, and in a while, we saw a train assistant who checked the tickets and said that this train was going to Kyiv so be careful, there were no sheets for sleeping, and in case of emergency signal, we had to fall on the floor. Therefore we decided to change a train on the way and take another one to Lviv. About 6 hours with delay took us to get to Lviv. On our way in Ivano Frankivsk, we heard a loud warning alarm, and it was a sign to run somewhere and hide in the specially equipped areas, usually in most of the cities, they were basements. After a while, we were allowed to return to the train and moved without a light on the floor. On our way, we saw thousands of cars in the traffic and slowly moving in the West Ukraine direction.

No locations where we are, all the direction signs where deleted

Arrived in Lviv, the train station was crowded with people from all over Ukraine, and refugees from Syria were waiting for a train to Poland. It was nearly midnight, and it was curfew time, so no one was allowed to leave, and many people were sleeping on the floor. When we saw our next train, we were delighted as it looked like a regular train with all the conveniences and we could sleep there a little. When we came to Smila it was 40 km away from our city there was no transport to pick us up, so we had to ask our friends to pick us up. What I saw shocked me very much. I saw another city with block posts with people wearing weapons and a scary atmosphere in the air on the road. By the time we reached home, we were exhausted and decided to stay in our flat in Cherkasy. Several times we have heard sirens, and it was a sign that we had to hide somewhere as it was a danger from the air. It lasted for the whole night. We understood that the city was a scary place to stay. We had to take all the documents and essential things, buy some food, and leave the city. Since that time, we have lived outside. 

Empty office

We host people and relatives, help the Ukrainian army, feed people in need, coordinate people who try to work here, prepare a place for people running from the bombs, and look after the children involved a lot in help. They help with cleaning, getting food, cooking, preparing, taking water from the well, etc. 

Me preparing sleeping places for people

In Ukraine, the situation is the following: on the 24th of February, early in the morning, about 4-5 am, Russian soldiers attacked Ukrainian cities. They located their tanks and rockets all over the Russian board and on the Belarusian border. Today is the 8th of March and the 13th day since we all forgot about peace. Many people stayed at their homes till the very end, believing it would end soon, but the situation got worse every day. They attacked Kharkiv, Mariupol, Berdyansk, Vinnytsia, Kyiv, Bucha, Gostomel, Akhtuka, and they fired Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar and Chernobyl. It is a nuclear threat for the whole world as the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is six times bigger than Chernobyl. All together, Ukraine has 15 atomic units that are in danger of exploding.

Russian invaders killed Ukrainian children and their parents cruelly in the evacuating buses and cars. Hundreds of pregnant women gave birth in the bomb shelter. Many young patients at the Okhmadyts National Children Specialized Hospital, which handles the most complicated cases in the country, are at the moment treated in bomb shelters. There are plenty of occupied territories, such as Berdyansk and Mariupol. People in these cities stayed without water and light and were stuck in their houses with no food in winter. I am writing about these cities because I have friends and relatives sharing the information personally, not from the internet. Many women with children were leaving Ukraine and what they told was a nightmare. The road to the border that usually took 6-8 hours is now overcrowded. People drive up to 3 days with no sleep. On the border is a long queue. Women with children walk with bags and crying children at night at minus temperature and stand hours in line. And every day, it is the same. More and more women and children are running away from Ukraine because they feel unsafe in their homes. In west Ukraine, there are no houses left. Every place is settled with people from the east and center parts.

I have no idea what to do myself, but the road’s danger is much more dangerous now than staying in the village. I don’t know what to do with sports, education, health, food in case we run out of all the savings. I can attach my real photos of where we’re now and what I see. But we are not allowed to take pictures of our block posts and army.

Empty shells in the market, but this picture is showing that no alcohol is allowed to be sold. Which is very good, as most of our people have clear minds

So what we figured out for now is that 10% of TalentScan’s income would go to FoodforLife to provide food to internally displaced people from the war hotspots regions. More detailed information about it you can read here.

 

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