On February 24, at 5 am, life in Ukraine was turned upside down. Ukrainians across the country awoke to the sound of alarms of air strikes and explosions as the armed forces of the Russian Federation unexpectedly attacked a peaceful country.
The main priority of Sigma Software Group, the company that runs the startup incubator, IT university, and venture capital fund, has been employee safety from that day forward. According to the business continuity plan, they began evacuating employees and their families to the western part of Ukraine and beyond. Now more than 90% of the employees continue to work smoothly and provide customers with high-quality services, which makes their customers proud of their cooperation.
But even in situations where many have been forced to leave their homes and quickly readjust to a new normal, there is always a way and means to support those who need it most. Thus, Sigma Software employees donated more than 320,000 dollars and donated it to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. IT experts began helping volunteer organizations deliver food and medicine, and some joined the military and regional defense.
Below you’ll hear some stories from members of the Sigma Software family who have faced the horrors of war and still maintain optimism and hope for a better future.
From hell and back
Kyrylo, a user interface designer at Sigma Software, left Kostiantynivka in the Donetsk region in 2014. Since then he has been living in Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine.
On the morning of February 24, a colleague from the design department called him up. I told him the war had begun. I didn’t hear any bombs at the time, they were probably on the outskirts of the city. It was a bright sunny morning outside and I was going for my morning coffee, like every day. Then I realized the dimensions of what was going on. People were anxious and the atmosphere felt tense and panicked.”
At first, Kirillo intended to spend this evening with his colleagues. In fact, they met to discuss possible ways to leave the bombed Kharkiv: “Three cars were ready for the flight, but we postponed the trip to the next day after the air alarm. We slept in the city subway that night. “
The next day, Kirillo and his companions left as a group for western Ukraine. For quick communication with each other, he created a group in Telegram, where they shared travel insights, information about gas stations and other pressing issues. “This is when a large number of people decided to stay where they are. But we now know that the general coordination and mutual assistance in this chat encouraged many to leave the city in the next few days.
The group spent the first night on the road in the city of Krupivnitsky in the heart of Ukraine. Then they moved to the west, where a colleague from Ternopil offered them asylum. “We heard the first sirens there, so we had to continue our journey. The end point was Lvov, where we were warmly received in the office and treated to homemade food. In addition, a colleague there left us keys to a free apartment, where 8 people and a dog still live. “.
This trip was not easy, but many of Kirill’s colleagues remained in Kharkov and needed help. On the first day, they provided humanitarian aid and bought medicines, and the next morning they returned to Kharkov. “We entered our town under heavy bombardment along a carefully studied road. We delivered food and medicine to local residents and volunteers,” he added.
They filled all the vacant seats in the cars with co-workers ready to leave the city. They spent several nights during this trip, with minimal sleep. They saw burning cars and destroyed gas stations. They also received a lot of help from the Ukrainian defenders, who suggested safe ways out of the besieged areas.
Kirillo says that he is not an overly emotional person, but now he has a sincere desire and opportunity to help those in need: “Here in Lviv, we still collect humanitarian aid and medicines and send them by train to the coordinators in Kyiv and Kharkiv . “
“Throughout the trip, we had the constant support of other colleagues. We are a team and it has been our strength for the past two weeks.”
A family of 2000 people
For Nastya, who specializes in recruiting advertisers at Sigma Software, the company started on February 24 with a text message: “I don’t remember the details, it was blasts and finding a safe place while waiting for more instructions from the company. If not for this message, I would probably have fallen asleep without knowing That war has begun.”
On that day she was on a business trip to the city of Ivano-Frankivsk in the western part of Ukraine. “One spare set of clothes and some hygiene products – that’s all I had with me, as I was supposed to go back to my hometown of Kyiv soon. Unfortunately, after a month, I still couldn’t do it. “
The first day was filled with despair and heartbreaking news for Nastya. However, she soon realized that she had to stay in Ukraine and help her compatriots. “There were thousands of them, every effort was valuable. The men in my family went to defend the country, so I couldn’t stand by. I volunteered to help my colleagues who were in trouble.
Nastya received and made hundreds of calls. In this way, she coordinated the evacuation, ordered accommodation and medication, and answered many questions. “Our team did impossible things every day. This was the essence of teamwork, pure friendship and caring for people. When we were able to collect and transport to Kharkov’s car full of drugs, including medicines not available in Ukraine, I was ready to embrace everything, although I barely I know some of my colleagues.”
Nastya was also impressed by the attitude of the company’s management, which put people’s lives and safety on the first place. Everyone was allowed to take their time and get back to work when they were ready.
With the Sigma program, Nastya now feels like she has a family of two thousand. “You are a great team. A team of open-minded, friendly and caring people.”
A former military officer, now an engineer at Sigma Software, remained in Kharkov to help local residents
Sarhi spent all his life in Kharkov, so his heart did not allow him to leave his beloved city. He stayed and got family support.
Sarhi tried in the early days to join the defense forces of the region. I am a former army officer. I felt the need to contribute in some way to the resistance to aggression. But for some reason they didn’t accept me.” He then decided he could help volunteer.
Sarhi started driving to the nearest checkpoint and wondered if he could help with the purchase and delivery. “At first, everyone said no, but eventually they started getting to know me and trust took hold. The most common requirements are usually tea, coffee, energy drinks and cigarettes.
He also visited the nearest subway stations, which became hideouts and volunteer centers. There he collected orders. People often need food and baby items such as diapers, food, medicine, and water. Sanitary items are also essential for the elderly who have to stay hidden or indoors 24 hours a day. “Sometimes I take people to evacuation points because taxi services are not available.”
My layoff usually begins early in the morning with some news. Then he travels to find out what to buy and do that day, collect orders, make purchases, and transport merchandise. “My work day starts at noon. I am a DevOps engineer and I continue my work on projects. Everyone – clients, companies and co-workers are very understanding and ready to help. Sigma Software donated money to humanitarian aid, helped organize the workplace and provided me and my family with electricity.”
Sarhi says the first few days were the hardest, as his heart was pounding at all the news. In the end, they got used to the new reality, no matter how difficult it was: “Together, I am convinced that we will be able to live in a peaceful and beautiful Ukraine,” concluded Serhiy.
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