Tatiana Bazilevich fled Ukraine following Russia’s invasion a year ago. In South Woodford, she found peace and quiet for her son to continue his education. She is grateful for all the support they have received and is now looking to apply her corporate skills in a new field
I am 47 years old and this is my second evacuation from my beloved native hometown, Kyiv. My first evacuation was during the Chernobyl disaster in spring 1986; I was only 11 years old and moved to the peaceful region of Donbass for six months. Some 36 years later, I was forced again to leave my home – this time with my own child, aged 14 – because of the Russian invasion (which has left the Donbass unrecognisable).
Russian missile and rocket attacks would come at dawn. The non-stop air raid sirens, day and night, preceded the threat of invasion. My country has had a year of sleepless nights. This is something that has left a strong and irremediable imprint on our neurological system, even if your town or village is some distance from the front line.
Since 24 February 2022, there has already been more than 1,574 sirens and 124 explosions from missiles in Kyiv alone. The duration of the horrible sound of the air alarm has been 30 days in the last 12 months. And the situation is much worse in combat zones.
The sirens were one of the main reasons why I left. My main focus was for my child to be able to study and finish his schooling in a safe and quiet place.
We were sponsored by Mark Everitt Martin and Marcos De Barros in South Woodford. They opened their hearts to us, even welcoming our very active corgi, Piata. I admire such a brave step, to invite unknown people from a war zone into your home and family. It was truly an incredible gesture of generosity, one I will be forever grateful for.
Having arrived here last June, my son now enjoys jogging near Eagle Pond and I love walking in Epping Forest. Our corgi has been fascinated with the brave foxes in the area. We are lucky to have met so many friendly, sincere people here. South Woodford is very quiet, green and welcoming.
I was under the illusion that having had a successful 20-plus year corporate banking career with international banks in Ukraine, that I would be able to find a good job in the banking sector in London. I soon discovered my front office skills were not needed here. Eastern Europe is not a core market and only local relationships are appreciated by employers. For entry level junior positions, I was competing with local students, plus the so called ‘overqualified status’ meant more doors were closed to me.
I have so much to offer and I decided I would not accept this rejection and conform. And so I thought about my transferable skills as a corporate banker and started voluntarily fundraising for my country.
I co-organised a charity art exhibition of contemporary icons painted on ammunition boxes from Ukrainian combat zones by Oleksandr Klymenko and Sofiia Atlantova. These conceptual art works are for sale and proceeds will be used to purchase medical equipment for the front line. I would like to invite everyone to come and see these amazing and powerful ‘witnesses of war’. Entrance is free and the display is on show at Notting Hill St John’s Church until 4 June.
I still believe my professional skills can be of use here. I am capable in fundraising and communication, business development and management consulting. Ukrainians are resilient, strong-minded and we never give up. We appreciate your help for our nation.
Please support Ukraine. What can you do personally? Keep in touch with your elected representatives. Fly a Ukrainian flag. Put a sticker on your computer. Buy and wear Ukrainian merch. In great causes, small gestures matter. The truth shall win.
To connect with Tatiana on LinkedIn, visit swvg.co.uk/tatiana