Photo of destroyed cars and apartment building in Irpin, Ukraine

It was that fateful morning of Feb. 24, 2022 when life changed forever for Viktoriya Potapchuk and Eduard Kanalosh.

“I woke up at 5 a.m. that morning after I heard an explosion,” said Potapchuk, who lives in Mykolaiv, Ukraine. “My friend called and told me to get my son and move to the basement right away.”

A destroyed building in Mykolaiv, Ukraine

Photo courtesy of Viktoriya Potapchuk. This image shows one of the destroyed buildings in Mykolaiv.

That’s the day Russia invaded Ukraine, devastating the country, and causing a humanitarian, social and economic crisis for its people. Since then, life has not been the same for Potapchuk and Kanalosh and their families.

“When this all began, the attacks were ongoing, and missiles were landing within half a mile from my place,” said Kanalosh, who lives in Kyiv, Ukraine. “Our city had shortages of many basic goods for three months, including medicine and fuel.”

Since then, Potapchuk and Kanalosh moved to Western Ukraine. Patapchuk continues to live that region as Mykolaiv has not been safe to return. Kanalosh, on the other hand, moved back to Kyiv after Russia left the vicinities of the city.

Photo of destroyed cars and apartment building in Irpin, Ukraine

Photo courtesy of Eduard Kalanosh. This is an image of Irpin, Kyiv Region, three miles from the Kyiv city boundaries.

“I left home after Russian soldiers started shelling my city so hard that our house was shaking from the bombs one night, and it looked like it was going to collapse.,” said Potapchuk. “That night I prayed that my son would survive. That’s when my family decided to leave.”

In the last year, they have experienced the unimagined. They’ve watched their homes, towns and communities get destroyed, and have lost friends, coworkers and loved ones.

“Thirty of my former colleagues were killed by a Russian missile while at work, and only one of them survived,” said Potapchuk. “I worked with them for eight years, and I knew them personally. That day I could not speak, I just cried… the pain was unbearable.”

While in bomb shelters, Kanalosh said he met refugees from Mariupol, Kharkiv and Kherson and saw many people with injuries from Russian missiles and bullets, and others whose homes and properties had been destroyed.

Even amid challenges, adversity and significant loss, Potapchuk and Kanalosh continue to be hopeful, resilient and determined to give back and support their country as it fights for its freedom.

“While I was sheltered in my basement, I galvanized my friends in the United States and across Europe to raise about $100,000 for the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” said Potapchuk, who is the CEO of Candor Global Services. “I also initiated financial assistance for all of our Ukrainian employees who were affected by the Russian invasion and had to leave their homes.”

Photo of Eduard Kalanosh
Eduard Kalanosh

Kanalosh, who leads a team in Ukraine for M&A Europe, tried to join the military, but was not able to due an illness. However, he and his wife continue to give portions of their salaries to the military.

“We’re not asked to help, but like so many others we just want to give back,” said Kanalosh. “Ordinary people across the country like myself are doing everything they can to support our military and refugees, including collecting medical supplies, food, and clothing.”

Potapchuk and Kanalosh are grateful to their colleagues in the United States for their support during this difficult time for their country. Potapchuk said the financial and moral support this past year has been tremendous. “My colleagues in the U.S. continually express their support, and if I want to cry, they cry with me.”

“It is extremely supportive to see that our war is not a forgotten conflict in some unknown land,” said Kanalosh. “People do care. People do sympathize. And there is a strong feeling that if we asked about any specific help, people in the company would at least try to help.”

Richard McDonald, vice president of corporate development for New Degree Growth, said the company will do anything possible to support team members in Ukraine. “The safety and wellbeing of our team members in Ukraine is extremely important to us,” said McDonald. “As a company, we admire their bravery and are grateful for their continued dedication even during a difficult time. They always will have our support.”

Potapchuk and Kanalosh are thankful for the overwhelming support. They continue to use this boost as motivation to keep going and be hopeful for a soon-to-be free and victorious Ukraine.

To help provide relief and assistance for Ukrainian people, you can visit UNICEF.

Candor Global Services, New Degree Growth and M&A Europe are part of Greg Lindberg’s business conglomerate.