Story #92. The Beginning of the Full-Scale War: the Experience of Kyiv Businesswoman

May 26, 2023
Iryna had prepared for the war. She and her family had been expecting a Russian attack since February 15 and believed the intelligence forecasts. #UkraineWorldTestimony

Iryna Synytska is the co-founder of a clothing brand and massage salon based in Kyiv. Like many other Ukrainians, Iryna and her family had to leave their homes due to the full-scale Russian invasion.

Iryna had prepared for the war. She and her family had been expecting a Russian attack since February 15 and believed the intelligence forecasts. Back in January, she and her husband packed an emergency backpack, got all the necessary vaccinations for themselves and their cats, made passports for the animals just in case, and prepared a place to leave Kyiv in case of danger. The family refueled the car every day, keeping their tank and spare fuel containers ready.

On the morning of February 24, Iryna and her husband woke up to explosions, and within 15 minutes, they and their cats were in the car. After another 20 minutes, they reached their parents' home, a place where the whole family had gathered to drive to a safer place.

For two months, the large family lived together in one house. Almost everyone in the family had businesses, so at first, during the full-scale invasion, everyone said goodbye to their business and property. However, they were all very happy to be together and to be alive and well.

Around mid-March, everyone in Iryna's family began to slowly reopen their businesses. Iryna's massage salon was open twice a week and was making a small profit. Iryna was very happy about this and transferred all the profits to the Come Back Alive foundation (a Ukrainian organization which purchases equipment for the military).

Now with more work and clients, Iryna donates 30% of her profits to the Foundation, as she understands that it is only thanks to the Armed Forces that Ukrainians can now live and develop their businesses.

In early May 2022, Iryna and her husband returned home to Kyiv and relaunched the rest of their projects. They also decided to start repairing their home, because life goes on.

Iryna Synytska believes in Ukrainian victory and is certain that it will come.

Russia's war against Ukraine is not a few hundred days old or even 9 years old, says Iryna. The war to destroy the Ukrainian people, history, statehood, and language has been going on for over 300 years.

"I was born in Kyiv and spoke Russian before this war. I knew Ukrainian perfectly, but my family was Russian-speaking, and I took it for granted. And then I realized that we had been Russified by force. I began to delve into the history of my family, into how we Ukrainians survived the Holodomor, the Second World War, etc. I did not find a single generation of Ukrainians whose lives were not destroyed by Russia. It is such deep pain. But Ukraine is always reborn," says Iryna.

She is incredibly happy that Ukrainians are now switching to their native language, valuing their country's own products, eliminating their inferiority complexes, cherishing their love for the country, and having courage and strength of mind.

"What our dissidents died for is now rising, what the Executed Renaissance [the generation of Ukrainian language poets, writers, and artists of the 1920s and early 1930s which was executed by the totalitarian Stalinist regime - ed.] died for. We finally understand who we are. Ukraine has already won, but there is still a little more to go. I believe in our Armed Forces and in all Ukrainians," she concludes.