The Russo-Ukrainian War in the Beginning…

On February 24, 2022, at 5 am, unsuspecting Ukrainians woke up to the horrific sounds of explosions and alarms from air raids. On that day, the armed forces of the Russian Federation unexpectedly attacked and turned the lives of innocent Ukrainians upside down.

The top priority of Sigma Software Group, the company that runs the startup incubator (Startup Assistance), university IT and venture capital fund SID Venture Partners, has been the safety of its employees since that day. According to their business continuity plan, they immediately began evacuating professionals and their families from besieged Kharkiv and other cities to western Ukraine and beyond. Today, despite the difficult situation, more than 90% of their team of 2,000 employees can perform their work smoothly and continue to provide customers with high-quality services, which makes them proud to work with Sigma Software.

Even in the most difficult times, when many citizens of Ukraine were forced to leave their homes and places of birth and quickly adapt to the new normal, solidarity with their fellow human beings reigns. Sigma Software employees have raised more than 320 thousand US dollars for citizens fighting for the freedom of Ukraine. Many Sigma experts have begun helping volunteer organizations, some have joined the military and regional defense, while others are delivering food and medicine to those who need it most.

We’ve collected some stories about members of the Sigma Software family who face the horrors of war on a daily basis, yet still plant hope for a better morning.

Escape from the bombing

For Mario, the head of the recruitment team from Kharkiv, the second largest Ukrainian city, the morning of February 24 started early. “I was sick and couldn’t sleep because of a cough. So I got up from bed to take my medicine. It was half past four in the morning. I didn’t hear anything, I just saw a lot of people gathering in the streets. However, I didn’t attach much importance to it. Unable to Sleeping, I turned on notifications on my cell phone and opened my laptop to do some work. That’s when I found out.”

Maria and her family stayed in Kharkov for about a week. On the first day of the invasion, we tried to hide in the subway station, but staying there was unbearable, especially with a six-year-old a few days before. So we ended up hiding in the hallway of our apartment,” says Maria.

Maria returned to work on Monday, at which time she and her family were not yet thinking of fleeing the city. They changed their plans when the heavy bombardment and airstrikes began. On Tuesday, Maria was already convinced that they should leave Kharkiv. He says it was a very difficult and frightening decision. “Previous evacuees have supported me and reassured me with their stories, so I put my family on the next evacuee list at Sigma Software. We left home on March 2.”

Fear and uncertainty have been replaced by a sense of security and certainty in what awaits them. Everything was organized: a bus, the safest route, a 5-day stay in a Lviv hotel with food (at the expense of the company), an additional one-month stay in the holiday complex along with jobs and technical support. “All the way, the company kept us updated on the course of the conflict, shared the good news, sent helpful tips and the like. When you are locked up in an apartment or in a bunker, it is very important to feel that connection, to feel cared for and helped by others,” he recalls.

Without the support and work of her loved ones, we probably wouldn’t be able to escape in time.

A scene of horrific events and feelings

Until recently, Sophia, director of human resources at Sigma Software, lived in Kharkov. On February 24, I woke her up early in the morning to the sounds of shelling. “Mom, the war has begun, we have to leave,” she told her mother, who lives with Sophia and her son.

Easier said than done at this point. It was not clear to her how they could do this without a car and how to maneuver safely through the blockaded streets. “It was all like a spectacle of horrific events and feelings. By happy coincidence, we were able to leave town on the same morning with my sister’s family and stay with them for a while in the new place.”

However, they were forced to continue their journey in about a week. Take the bus to Dnipro (a city in the central part of Ukraine). They arrived late in the evening, during curfew, and spent the night at a nearby hotel. At that time, stress and nervous tension took their toll. I could not gather my thoughts, and did not remember the protocols for dealing with a war situation, though I knew them, as I was part of the team that organized the evacuation plan. “I felt guilty for not doing my job,” Sophia says.

Sigma software office in Lviv

In desperation, she called her team leader, who reassured Sophia and assured that all her duties would be covered by her co-workers by the time she was ready to return to work. I also provided instructions for further steps. Then I called the head of the Sigma Software Dnipro office, who gave Sophia more confidence and hope. “The next day, with the help of my wonderful colleagues, I got everything I needed: an apartment to live (for free!), a place to work and all possible help.”

Sofia is now in Lviv. When the Sigma Software evacuation bus arrived from Dnipro, it joined 32 co-workers who also had to leave their homes. But this time, Sophia felt much better. “I knew the company would take care of me and my family.”

800 people moved in one week

Kate, event organizer Sigma Software

Kate is from Kherson, but she has been living in Kyiv for 5 years. Kate is an experienced organizer of events at Sigma Software. Before that, she took care of promoting the company’s brand at Ukrainian and world events.

In a way, my story may not sound as dramatic as the stories of my colleagues who had to flee the bombing. But deep down, war inflicts the same scars on all of us — forcing us to leave our homes and witness how your country suffers from invasion,” says Kate.

Kate decided to leave Ukraine two days before the start of the war. On February 22, she traveled with her family to Tbilisi, Georgia, not knowing how many days or weeks they would spend there. “It was the morning of February 24 when I found out that I was doing the right thing in persuading relatives to flee. Now at least we had a sense that we were in a safe place. However, it was short-lived. Georgians showed great support for Ukraine with massive protests against Russian aggression. Kate recalls this: “Because of these disturbances, it was not safe there either, so we ended up in Bulgaria.”

On the first day, she joined a team of company volunteers to help co-workers evacuate and leave the battlefields. “It was a kind of deliverance for me – from difficult thoughts and feelings. I knew I had to help others because I was safe while others suffered and were stuck in besieged cities.”

Kate joined and coordinated a team searching for temporary accommodation for evacuees from Kharkov, Kiev, Dnieper and other cities. They set up an emergency help line that operates 24 hours a day. “Four of my colleagues were available by phone day and night. A team of 10 people simultaneously did an extensive search for accommodation for one or two nights. My job was to coordinate the work of the team and its interaction with people. In just one week, we were able to find accommodation for 800 colleagues. at work and their pets — about 120 cats, dogs, hamsters and other animals,” says Kate.

Today, Kate feels intense pain and grief for her country, as well as the pride and enthusiasm of her colleagues who have joined forces and made it impossible to help and support each other.

Sigma Software offers more than 60 remote job opportunities in Europe. If you’d like to join the Sigma Software team and the #StandWithUkraine movement, you can do so at the website.

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