A Heavy Heart for Ukraine and Our World

A peaceful lake in Synevyr, Ukraine. Photo by Nazar Haponov on Unsplash

I had several other topics in mind for this week’s blog, but today we woke up to news that rendered all the other thoughts and ideas I had inconsequential by comparison.

I’m not really organised a lot in my thoughts, but I wanted to share them in the raw and unsynthesised form that they are.

As an avid reader of WWII era novels and non-fiction, the human consequence of war is foremost in my mind.  On either side, the aggressor or the invaded, huge numbers of innocent lives are lost as pawns in a sick and twisted quest for power.  Why is this ok?  Why do we let this happen?

I’m also thinking of my various encounters with Ukrainian people and feel tremendous sadness.  

One of the most memorable was related to a fiasco of events with a cleaning firm (not Ukrainian owned or run) where items that I had prepared and left in the front hall to take to charity shops started disappearing.  In our busy world, I blamed my husband (who has a tendency to create a perfectly neat house by stuffing things in cupboards and closets) and he proclaimed his innocence.  

We didn’t think a lot of it, because the things weren’t of great value, were to be given away anyway, and we just had more important things on our mind.  That ended when my LL Bean canvas tote that I use to carry my glasses and a few small personal things between our summer house and home disappeared, with several pieces of jewellery, as we had been at a wedding.  My husband vehemently denied doing anything with that bag, and we couldn’t find it anywhere in the house.  

With that, I called the cleaning firm who said that the items were taken by the girls because they were left for them as all the other things in the past.  Mystery solved, but…. I asked how jewellery in a bag with my name on it could have been misconstrued as a gift.  At that point, she was quite nervous and defensive.  

I was heartbroken over the jewellery, which wasn’t of any great financial value, but rather sentimental (the pearls my grandparents, who were both gone, had given me when I turned 16; some early gifts from Anders…).  

On that Saturday, we were preparing for another wedding when our doorbell rang. A young woman was at the door and asked to speak to me.  She had been one of the cleaners and wasn’t comfortable with the whole situation (which was evolving to be far more complex than just my missing jewellery) where they were told it was fine to take our old items “we were leaving in the front hall for them”.  

She explained that she and the other girls were from Ukraine, and as most of them had already been sent home, it would take her some time to get my jewellery back, but she would.  She said she didn’t want me to think badly of Ukrainian people.

I thanked her but frankly didn’t have a whole lot of hope.  The situation seemed quite unlikely to be solved, but I was proven wrong several months later when she showed up again at our door with all the missing pieces and a big smile on her face.  It had taken a while as she didn’t want to use mail or courier services, so she had a complicated chain of travel in trusted people from Ukraine through Eastern Europe to Sweden, but she succeeded in returning every last piece to me.

I thanked her profusely and offered a reward, but she refused, saying only that she wanted that we know that Ukrainian people were honest, ethical, and hard-working, and would not steal from others.  Her hard-work, high ethics, and honesty are certainly something I will never forget.

My next encounter with Ukraine came when we were building CCUX in Gothenburg.  We, as many other companies at the time, needed more software developers than the national market could fulfil.  We started working with many companies, large and small, who would bring engineers in to work.  Many promising candidates and small companies, with impressive competence and skills, were coming from Ukraine.  From that time on, I saw the country as highly educated, motivated, and good to work with.  

For both the young woman who did a complicated service to do what was right, all the hard-working engineers who want to be part of creating something with their skills and talent, and all the other people of Ukraine, my heart breaks today.

Just like us, they get up in the morning, want to do a good job, want to love and be loved, and want to be safe and free from harm.  They want to work to have a better life, for themselves, but also their loved ones.  

While their country may be far from ours, it is a country.  A sovereign entity that has a right to exist, self-govern, and live without aggression and molestation from its bully of a neighbour.  

This isn’t inconsequential.  This isn’t an unfortunate circumstance in a far-off land.  This is our fellow humans, being invaded, having their lives and livelihoods put at risk by a power-hungry bully.

If this is ok (which I argue it clearly is NOT), where is it not ok?  Where does it go too far?  Poland, the Baltics, …?

Ever since I heard the news this morning, I have feared that this may be a more impactful event on our lives than COVID-19 has been.  

And as I do in all situations, when I start to feel powerless and helpless, I try to look at what I can do, how I can help.  That is how I plan to spend time today, to figure out what organisations are making a difference, and helping Ukrainian people, and see how I can support them.  

I would be grateful to hear of ideas, of how I and we can help.  Please reach out with them, and also, please do care.  Please do research and see how you can help.  Maybe if enough of us do, we can make a difference for the Ukrainian people and the future of our world.

Here are some resources that I have found, feel free to share others that I should add.

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