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Last month Multilingual published my interview on how we experienced the first month of the war. We thank for this opportunity to give us a voice and talk about the real situation with the Russian war against Ukraine. You can read the interview here. We are also publishing the full version of questions and answers for the records to complement this article.
1. Can you tell me a bit about how everyday life is affected? I'd imagine it's surreal to have sirens going off in the midst of everything. What else has changed?
Iryna: The situation changes every day. It was supposed to be an interview where I was thinking to share my point of view on how it started, how our team was coping with all difficulties, and how my family experienced everything related to this terrible war. I rewrote it several times almost every day.
Things are getting worse. As you know, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol, and tens of other Ukrainian cities are being destroyed by the Russian army now. Despite the fact that all Ukrainians are standing and fighting with the enemy, despite our army doing everything possible and impossible to protect the country, we experience a real disaster. A lot of people are suffering. Thousands of them are dying at this very minute.
Dnipro city where I am from and where our main office is situated is safe for now.
I decided to relocate to another country with my daughter to be safe although this dangerous trip took me several days. But my heart stays there, in Ukraine.
And in such a tragic moment for my country and my people, all the words written before don’t make much sense. And my words might hurt someone who is not in a safe place now. And this is what I really don’t want to cause. But I decided to keep this interview for the records. And I hope it will help to spread more truth about this terrible war. So this is what I can say in a mid of March, almost a month since the war started:
2. Tell me a little about the weeks leading up to the invasion. What was it like as the world grappled with conflicting stories about Russia's intentions?
Iryna: Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014 and illegally annexed a part of its territory (Crimea, parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions). Ukraine has been fighting Russian aggression since then, although it wasn’t clearly identified as a war. We also saw how the Russian propaganda worked calling it our internal civil war and denying any presence of Russian troops on our territory. So we knew how perfidious our neighbor was and understood there was a high chance of invasion. Unfortunately, Russia began to endanger our safety by accumulating its military forces near the borders of Ukraine and in the occupied areas. I hoped that it was just another act of diversion or trick to push through Russian interests on the political scene. We couldn’t believe they would dare to start a full-scale war. But they did.
Naturally, in the first hours, we all felt panic, shock, and a lot of fear. But when we made sure our families were relatively safe, we immediately got together and started to work out and implement our further action plan.
As for our company, surely, we were taking certain measures to decrease the risks, to be ready to continue working even in difficult conditions. For example, a high-capacity remote server is hosted in a trusted European IT center, and our infrastructure allows us to support our clients from any spot of the world with the Internet connection available. Thanks to Elon Musk, Starlink Internet is already available in Ukraine as a backup Internet connection :). Also, shareholders of InText established a company in Estonia back in 2017 to meet growing demand from European customers and now we can also partially rely on our colleagues in Estonia for support of our operations just in case we will need it. All these contingency measures help us to continue working now. However, living and working during a war is the hardest challenge for everybody.
Thus, my company and I stand with all the people of Ukraine in claiming that the Russian leadership has treacherously unleashed and is waging a war against peaceful Ukraine. We did not expect such a tragic scenario but we are coping with the hardships.
3. I find it amazing that you're still working in the midst of all this. What is the environment like at work? How do you and your colleagues balance paying attention to war news while maintaining focus on your job?
Iryna: We’ve been trying to work as usual as it was just impossible to imagine that everything could simply stop, and all the huge amount of work our team is doing could be destroyed. We feel highly responsible, first and foremost, for our colleagues and freelance suppliers, and their families. We have to provide as much financial stability for them as possible. We also continue working because we have hundreds of clients. We are good at our job, that’s why our clients rely on us and expect us to do many projects. As always, we are responsible for providing high-quality service.
Our team is coping with this situation like real heroes. To continue running a business is also a powerful tool now: it helps us support and contribute to maintaining the economic stability in Ukraine. It will also help us to recover our country after the war. We have formed an Assistance Fund to support our employees, their family members, and other citizens of Ukraine, including the residents of Dnipro. We have made advance payments to our employees, freelance suppliers, and the state budget. As for helping during the war, we are focusing on humanitarian issues now, specifical aid to people here and now. InTexts cooperates with the Red Cross in Dnipro and supplies food and necessary items to the Railway station to support the refugees evacuating from the hotspots of Ukraine. We also help some evacuated families to find shelter and support in our city. This goes without saying.
The situation in the city of Dnipro and the region has been fully under control by the Ukrainian authorities. A part of our employees have stayed here to work like before the war, except for the necessary safety measures that we have to take during air-raid alerts arms. The others have relocated to Western Ukraine or abroad to continue working and living in a safer environment. Our hearts are breaking in a wish to help each other in this war, and we are helping in every way we can. Many of us are volunteering in translation and humanitarian initiatives.
4. And what about when the invasion happened? That must have been an intense moment as the reality of the situation set in.
Iryna: It was my 35th birthday. February, 24th, 2022. I will never forget it: my cousin from Kharkiv called me at 5 AM and I thought, “Wow, why does she want to wish me Happy Birthday so early?”. But she cried, “Ira, they’ve started a war! I can hear the explosions! I’m going to take my kids and go to Dnipro. Or to your parents’ place near Poltava.” I turned on the TV: they had also attacked numerous strategic objects in the whole country. The war has started.
5. It must be difficult for so many Ukrainian families as individuals, like your husband, to join up to help in the fight. What was your experience like as you two reached that decision?
Iryna: Well, my husband is a reserve officer, so it was his duty. As soon as Ukraine declared military law, he received a call-up notice. The next day he joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine. I didn’t want him to go but we both knew it was the right decision now. We told our 6-year daughter that daddy had become a soldier and went on a business trip. And she accepted it easily, as she hadn't seen the war reality and didn’t know all the terrible consequences.
6. Regarding the events, you are planning, what are your hopes for a best-case scenario? Do you think it's likely they may still be able to go forward? When do you hope to make a final decision?
Iryna: I can say that we can’t plan anything till the war ends. We hope with all our hearts that the war will end with our victory, we will be able to come back to peaceful life in our home towns and cherish it even more. And we will organize tens of wonderful events.
7. The world is amazed by the bravery and fighting spirit of the Ukrainian people. Was it surprising to see the national reaction to this invasion?
Iryna: No, it wasn’t. We are on our land and we are defending it. This war is aimed to divide us but it has united us like never before.
I saw it in 2014 and I see it every day today. We are fighting desperately. Not only our army but also ordinary people, the citizens of Ukraine, who go to the streets and prepare mollies to meet the enemy. They are helping each other like never before. They are cooking food, hosting refugees from the hot war spots, sharing what they have with those in need.
8. What do you think are the best ways people from other countries can help during these tumultuous times?
Iryna: You can spread the truth, I hope it can help to fight Russian propaganda.
You can donate money, not only to the army but also for humanitarian needs.
Here is the link we share with our partners: https://helpukrainewin.org/
You can also support Ukrainian businesses and keep sending orders to us at InText, to other Ukrainian LSPs and to Ukrainian freelancers.
And you can pray as well. I believe every religion is against war.
9. I'd imagine times like these have a way of putting priorities in perspective. What do you find to be the most important parts of life right now?
Iryna: It’s life itself
10. Is there anything else you want to comment on or any other observations you'd like to make?
Iryna: I would like to thank the world for supporting us. And I want to thank everyone in the localization industry for your help.
I’d also like to tell all my fellow Ukrainians who are reading this: Stay safe! Glory to Ukraine!