How to Survive the War, Spring-2022 Edition.

Hi! My name is Dasha and I am the CEO of Effa.

 

This is how I introduced myself before Feb 24, 2022.

At 5 am my mom called me screaming only one-word “WAR”.

From that minute my life has changed forever.

 

 

 

Before that horrible moment of my life, I have been a successful entrepreneur, happiest wife, and mom of a 2-years-old toddler Lukas. We were living in Kyiv, had an office, a team, a flat, and a life full of dreams and plans for the next decade. We left Kyiv the day before the war started, on Feb 23rd we packed our bags for a small trip to Western Ukraine, just to have some rest from the news and anxiety caused by a growing danger, but we never believed that this could ever happen. We had our flight tickets for March 2nd to Austin, Texas, where I and my husband were planning to go to attend the SXSW and present our startup, Effa, there. We were getting ready, dreaming to meet investors, clients, and maybe even celebrities, the world was opened to us.

 

Getting back to the counting point. 5 am, Feb 24th, I am standing in front of the window of my hotel room, holding the phone near my ear and looking at the window, not knowing what to do, in total silence. And I hear “BOOM”, and once again, and again. I was not scared and did not panic or wanted to run away. I was still looking at the window, with no thoughts in my head. My husband hugged me and we began to cry. That’s how the war started for us.

 

I have cried unstoppably for 5 days after that. I barely remember those days. They were full of phone calls with parents, friends, relatives, or whoever I could remember, and wanted to ask if they were safe. I remember only one single moment: we were sitting in the kitchen, trying to eat (btw, we did not eat anything for those 5 days, you just can’t eat. Your body does not let you eat.) and suddenly the siren went on. The sound of a city siren is horrible. Long moaning, going on and on for minutes, too loud to hear your thoughts. We jumped from our chairs, grabbed our baby, and went to the bathroom, the nearest safe place we could get within seconds. They say the first siren goes to grab your attention and keep you near your phone, radio, or TV so you will keep yourself warned and updated. The second siren means that bomb, or rocket, or whatever that might kill you is going in your direction, the city you are in. If you hear the third siren — you have a couple of seconds to hide. So we sat on the floor in our bathroom, cuddling our baby and counting the sirens. One-two-three. We began to pray. My son asked me “Mom, why are you crying?” and we began to calm him down and told him that that’s just a fun game, we are hiding in a cave from dinosaurs and we’ll be safe soon. We did not leave the bathroom that night.

 

 

 

Now, the 46th day of the war.

 

We have calmed down and got used to the new reality. Our parents are safe, our friends are too. Our team has left their homes, and everyone has left to different cities and countries. We have fundraised some money in order to pay salaries and to move on with our dreams. That’s my second full-time day in the office and life is getting back to normal. Sirens wake me up at night and still make me run, searching for a bomb shelter, but with a cold head, not in panic anymore.

 

We have started our humanitarian help fund, named by my son, little Lukas, where we raise money to buy all the needed things for the newborns. Yes, nature is much stronger than any war. Women still give birth and get pregnant. And we need to care about the newborn angels, to make them safe and happy.

 

My company Effa makes 100% recyclable and renewable hygienic products, such as paper toothbrushes and razors. Before the war started, we were working with hotels and airlines. But now we are accomplishing our humanitarian mission and supplying our products to the Ukrainian refugee camps, so people there can take care of themselves and feel fresh and clean, to remember they are alive.

 

 

 
That’s my first story here, but definitely not the last. I will keep posting and telling stories about how we survived through the war mentally and physically, how we are re-building our business, and how we keep ourselves happy. Yes, you CAN feel happy during the war. The reasons for being happy are different. You can feel happy after a call from your mom, who said that she has found some fresh food in the shop.
 
Or you can feel happy knowing that your baby is safe and will not remember the horror of the war. Hoping that he will know about the war only from the history lessons.

History is created by Ukrainians right now.

Slava Ukraine!

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Dasha Kichuk

04.15.2022

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