Firstly, are your family and friends safe and OK?
I have lots of friends and family in Ukraine. I was born, raised and educated in Kyiv. I came to Australia when I was 23. So, I still have family in Ukraine, my grandparents in their 80s (who lived through World War II and need this new war the least) are currently sheltering in their apartment in Kyiv city centre. I pray they will have enough food and medication to stay at home until the shelling and explosions end, as almost all shops and supermarkets are not working.
My husband's family is from Donetsk and they've been forced to leave Donetsk as their apartment blocks are under shelling, with some of the nearby apartment blocks completely destroyed. Indeed, very hard and dark times for my family... Lots of my friends stayed in Kyiv, some sleeping in underground stations, in bomb shelters or their house basements, some joined the defence forces. Everyone is doing what they can. Business wise - all heylink.me products are proudly designed and engineered in Ukraine. Our team is working from all over Ukraine - Kyiv, Sumy, Poltava, Mariupol. Our Ukrainian team is safe now and we do our absolute best to support them and continue undisrupted service.
What are the latest developments on the ground, and what have you been hearing?
The situation is changing every hour. There was a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian leadership yesterday, but nothing was decided yet. Experts are talking about possible peace agreements or Minsk 3 agreements. The shelling and explosions didn't stop even for these peace talks. Under attack are currently two major cities Kharkiv (in the East of Ukraine) and Kyiv (Ukraine’s capital).
The world's biggest and most famous cargo plane, Antonov-225 "Mriya", from Ukrainian language "The Dream", was destroyed yesterday during shelling at Antonov airfield in Hostomel, near Kyiv, where it had been undergoing maintenance. There are no clear numbers on losses and civilian deaths yet, but there will be lots. The war that was happening for 8 years in Donetsk came to the whole Ukraine. Ukrainians are patriotic and devoted to defending their land. The conflict seems to be shifting very quickly into a EU-UK/Russia confrontation, especially with EU military aid and now the Russian nuclear posture.
How is the conflict impacting women in particular?
All vulnerable groups are always hit first and very hard by any crisis. In the Ukrainian case, women are the only group that is allowed to leave Ukraine and seek refugee abroad. Males in the age between 18 and 60 years old are not allowed to leave Ukraine under the country-wide military mobilisation and martial law. Women have a chance to escape and try to build their lives in a safer environment. At the same time, there are women who are joining military forces and civilian self-defence battalions to protect their land. Just today I saw several videos how pregnant women are giving birth in bomb shelters, seeking refuge from shelling. There are hospitals that moved to bomb shelters to be able to provide essential medical support. It's a really tough time to be a woman in Ukraine. This all makes me think again and again - what if the world's top leaders were all females, would we ever end up in this war?
What perspectives do you think are missing from mainstream media?
There's lots of media coverage now from all over the world, as the world is watching and trying to understand Russia's actions in Ukraine and see what the future scenarios are. As for the mainstream Ukrainian and Russian media, both sides are not displaying the realistic picture of what is happening, there's lots of fakes and propaganda on both sides (on Ukrainian side - to keep people patriotic and continue the fight; on the Russian side - to justify and win support for their actions). We don't see the real picture yet, but we will, soon we will, when both sides report and show their losses and more stories of civilians and all the war horrors come out.
Can you tell us about the fund you have established?
Seeing lots of financial support for Ukrainian military and real lack of support to Ukrainian refugees on the ground in Ukraine, we decided to establish a fund to cover relocation needs of Ukrainians escaping the war. UN reports 200,000 already left Ukraine, they project 7,000,000 refugees in the next weeks/months. We have established a network of 10 volunteers and created a relocation fund to support Ukrainians fleeing life-threatening explosions and military actions. The relocation fund will cover their relocation costs: travel and accomodation costs, visa application fees, document translation fees.
Fundraising is open here: https://heyukraine.org/
We also put together lots of useful resources for Ukrainian refugees by countries - about the routes, visa rules in the recipient countries and lists of partner contacts for accomodation, and all other possible resources. We are constantly updating this info with advice on the nest routes to the border and services available after crossing the border.
So far, we've seen extraordinary response and very generous support from the Australian startup ecosystem, our investors, friends, clients who are donating to the fund showing their support for Ukraine and all Ukrainians. Their support means the world to us! With such support Ukraine can win and continue on their own democratic pathway.