In Ukraine, these women were high-powered professionals: Financiers, lawyers, teachers, artists. As refugees in Poland, they struggle to earn a living and find purpose as Russian forces threaten their homeland.
Text: Paul Waldie and Anna Liminowicz for The Globe & Mail
Valentinya Melnyk used to conduct choirs and teach music at a university in Ukraine. Now she volunteers as a cleaner at Ukrainian House in Przemysl, Poland.
Lali Dmitrieva managed three Georgian restaurants in Mariupol and Kyiv. In Poland, Warsaw when she finally found a job, the pay was so minuscule it wasn’t worth the 90-minute commute. In July, she and her son left for Dublin determined to start again.
Yelyzaveta Varshno used to be deputy head of a pension fund in Ukraine. Now she runs the kitchen as a volunteer at a refugee shelter on Woloska street in Warsaw.
Maiia Horelkina, a refugee from Kyiv, used to be an executive at an information technology company. Now she volunteers washing dishes at Ukrainian House in Przemysl, Poland.
Zhana, a civil and commercial lawyer in Ukraine, now provides free legal counselling to refugees in Warsaw.
Milana Pakhomova worked as a lecturer at universities in Donetsk and Kyiv before the war started. She has been doing volunteer work since arriving in Warsaw in mid-March.
The war in Ukraine halted Katertyna Skrypko's professional career as an actress. In Poland, she cannot work in her profession due to the language barrier.
Nadya Mitskevitch was an illustrator of books, including provocative works that drew attention to domestic violence. She’s slowly returned to drawing and hopes to pick up freelance work.