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Surviving the Unknown, Anna’s story about the war in Ukraine

In her new blog, OLX’s Anna Stratovich discusses her experiences of living through war in Ukraine and how she is now selling art to support people and animals in need of shelter.

Anna Stratovich
Senior Talent Acquisition Lead

My name is Anna, I am a Talent Acquisition Lead at OLX
I’m responsible for recruitment in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Romania and Portugal.  This is a story of resilience, community, and the transformative power of support.

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Today, I calculated that since February 2022 I have lived in 8 countries and stayed in 15 different accommodations, including apartments, hotel rooms, village houses, or small rooms in people’s houses. I packed and unpacked my belongings 15 times, and adapted to new walls, decorations, and surroundings. This experience has been tremendous, albeit challenging. However, through my own experience, I have learned that when external support disappears – in my case, permanent housing – internal support starts to develop.

I could describe my state with a new term – “homelessness.” I could be called a “nomad,” and for a long time, that’s how I felt. However, back then these definitions and feelings didn’t give me strength or confidence. Now, I approach my current state differently. In the past, I focused on what I had lost, but now I focus on what I have gained.

Now, what used to worry me, doubt me, or scare me no longer matters to me. Perhaps that is the essence of this entire story?

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A significant portion of my newfound strength and support comes from OLX, our beloved company.  Even before the war began, the company provided employees with the opportunity to temporarily relocate and live in the western parts of Ukraine, which were considered less susceptible to attack risks. My parents and I with our Corgi dog – Nota Bene – didn’t consider this option as not all places allowed pets. That’s why we decided to move to another country without any concrete plans for a destination. We found ourselves caught up in a vortex that was carrying us somewhere, and we just accepted it without resistance. 

When the war broke out on February 24th, all Ukrainians were in complete shock. We couldn’t grasp what was happening in our reality. Since you all have been following the news, I won’t repeat everything that took place. But what we are experiencing internally and continue to endure is unimaginable, and I wouldn’t wish anyone to go through something similar.

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But the amount of warmth, empathy, understanding, and material support from the company – I haven’t heard of such cases of support in my surroundings. As well as this, OLX has done a lot to help Ukraine and Ukrainians by supporting various projects related to children’s medicine, housing for those who had it destroyed, and many other projects. Colleagues in Europe hosted colleagues in their homes and helped us a lot. I am proud to work for such a company among such people.

Moreover, our Ukrainian team united so tightly that we didn’t realize we were capable of it. The team not only supported each other (some people were in places where it was very dangerous, and there was occasional loss of communication with them), but many of the Ukrainian team worked from bomb shelters that were not at all adapted for work. Each of us was constantly thinking – how else can I help someone? All the selfishness that exists within each of us literally dissolved, and the focus was on how I could be helpful to our people every day.

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This Spring, I embarked on my first trip to Ukraine, and I realized that it is my true place of power. Despite the daily sirens and attacks from above, I felt an incredible amount of energy and unconditional love. It was so powerful that on the very first weekend, I picked up my brushes and paints again (before the war, I used to paint and sell my artwork on Etsy, and they traveled all around the world) and created a painting of cherry blossoms. But that wasn’t enough. On my Instagram page, I organized a charitable art week, selling my own paintings and featuring the artwork of my artist friend. I donated 100% of the proceeds from my sold paintings to animal shelters and to help people who were left homeless.

Overall, this year has been immensely transformative for me. Through my own experiences, I have come to understand how fragile the world we live in is and how any support can make a significant impact. I see this as tremendous support from our beloved OLX, which has become a reliable pillar for all Ukrainian employees. It not only prevented us from breaking but made us exponentially stronger and kinder.

My ask now is that the rest of the world does not forget Ukraine,
and you continue to educate yourselves
and try to support in whatever way you can.

If you would like to view Anna’s art, take a look at her ArtAstraCo page.