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Stories that you confided to us

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views: 1402
Myroslava Minaieva
age: 33
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Antratsyt
Antratsyt
"We just started to get back on our feet, and then Covid and quarantine began!"

Myroslava Minaieva has founded a beauty salon where pensioners can do their hair for free. She holds master classes for children and raise funds to buy food for animal shelters. A few years ago, Slava jumped into the last car of the convoy organized in the east of Ukraine. Then I walked for several kilometres along, carrying an empty a suitcase in one hand and a bag with a cat dazed from the explosions in the other.

Our beauty studio takes care of people. Thanks to the studio, I have the opportunity to help old ladies, children, and animal by buying food for animal shelters. My secret is simple — you need to be open, kind, strive for something. and never give up.

My name is Myroslava, and I am 33 years old. I came from the city of Antratsyt, Luhansk Oblast. Now I live in Odessa. I have three children: son Konstantyn, 13, daughter Emiliia, 10, and a baby Leon, 2 months old. Husband Christoph and grandmother Tetiana. She is not from the east. She comes to visit us and help with the children.

We just started to get back on our  feet, and then Covid and quarantine began!

When did the "green men" appear?

We used to have a flower business and a children's toy store in Antratsyt. I first encountered war in 2014. At first, they captured the SSU in Luhansk, then the "'green men", I believe that was how people called them, appeared in the city. Those were strangers wearing camouflage uniforms. They seizes the court building, the prosecutor's office, and the administration department.

We just started to get back on our  feet, and then Covid and quarantine began!

I had to send my children (the youngest was not born yet) to Rovenki to live with my grandmother until things would go back to normal. This happened in April. At that time, I and common-law husband had already separated. He went to Russia, and I was left alone with two children.

In June, it was already clear that nothing good would happen next. My children and I gathered and went to visit relatives in Odessa. I really hoped that my family would help and support me. Just two or three hours after we left on the Luhansk-Odessa train, the railway station in Luhansk was blown up.

Jumping into the last car of the convoy

At the end of June, when it became clear that there was no point in returning, I decided to come to Antratsyt to pick up children's documents from school, kindergarten, as well as winter clothes.

When I left Odessa, I sent my daughter to Western Ukraine, to my grandmother's. I couldn't send her to kindergarten or anywhere else. Son went to a children's camp.

In Antratsyt, bombings from air-crafts had already begun. It was so scary! We would walk down the street and crouch down from the explosions. I had a Scottish fold cat, so when an explosion happened, she fell and peed. We had cracks on the walls and the windows from the explosions.  

We just started to get back on our  feet, and then Covid and quarantine began!

When I arrived for the documents, I couldn't leave for a month and a half. Communications were jammed. Transport didn't operate. The city was closed. I was lucky — my mother took me to the last car of the convoy.

Then the cars gathered in columns and one column moved its way once a week or once in a fortnight. They made windows so that people could be taken out. I only managed to take a suitcase with children's clothes, a cat, and documents. I was lucky to get into the last car.

They took me to Sloviansk. So they dropped me off at the crossing where the road takes turn to Sloviansk, Debaltseve and Antratsyt.

Then I had to walk. I didn't know where. Routed buses were cancelled. I walked about three or four kilometers with this suitcase and a cat in the bag.

Another boy from my city walked with me. He helped me pull this bag on the asphalt, on the highway. We were lucky — a Zhiguli car pulled over and picked us up. And the man drove us to the bus stop – we got to the train station.

We arrived in Kharkiv. There were a lot of people who left the east. Very many people did not know what to do. I remember that there were temporary tents at the railway station in Kharkiv. I sat there with my cat for a day,  because it was impossible to buy a ticket

The only place where I found a  job with an eastern residence permit was a supermarket.

And then, a day later, I arrived in Odessa. I had to rent a room with two children in a suburb that is on the border of the village of Kotovskoho [a remote residential area of the city]. Money we had wasn't enough.

I got a job in a chain supermarket. The only place where I could find a job with my registration. I was offered a senior cashier, working five days a week. I came at 07:30 a.m. and left at 04:30 a.m., because I have children. I was lucky.

I worked there from August to October. In October, I was given a certificate that I was officially employed. I took it to kindergarten and quit. I went to Western Ukraine, took my daughter, sent her to kindergarten and started training in the beauty industry. I wanted to try doing something I liked.

Find your dream job

I studied at Luhansk Pedagogical University as a stylist and designer. We learned stylistics, appearance, tailoring, and hairstyles. In Odessa, I found a salon where I was trained by a master. I paid her money and she found clients for me. But when the clients started asking for my telephone number, they told me to leave (laughing).

We just started to get back on our  feet, and then Covid and quarantine began!

Then, by chance, I got to the beauty show at the seaport. There was a German technologist there. He did haircuts and colorings right on the podium. I never visited such exhibitions before. I just stood there with my mouth open and watched those tufts of hair fly. He gave me a hair clip as a token gift. I still have it.

I liked it so much that I got acquainted with their entire team. Three or four months later I went to Kyiv to study. I don't know where I found the money for this. They just came to me somehow. My grandmother and great-grandmother, who is over 70 years old, and my younger sister periodically helped me with my children. I took my sister from there [eastern Ukraine] in 2014, too.

That is when I changed my views on things drastically. I began to appreciate human attitude and see through people. My grandmother says I became a little more rigid. I have a lot of sympathy for animals, pensioners, and children.

Creating beauty and take care of other people

Today we have a beauty studio with courses and a beauty salon. I am a manager. I arrange  work at the studio. I also teach hairdressing and coloristics. We bring beauty to the world, and we give out free certificates to pensioners to use our services. Old people come to us who are so eager to have haircuts but cannot afford them.

We tried to help children: we held creative events and master classes. So, in September 2019, I was invited to participate in a project that brought together pupils (Years 8-9) who study at boarding schools in Odessa Oblast. The children were divided into groups in different business areas. My team of children wrote a business plan "How to set up a beauty salon properly". We still keep in touch. If not for the quarantine, many would have come to us for training.

We just started to get back on our  feet, and then Covid and quarantine began!

Covid and quarantine knocked everything out. For example, the facility we are currently in was available only in November. We completed repairs in December. Then, in January, we started promotion and had our first customers. Quarantine changed everything.

It wasn't until late May or early June that people started doing haircuts. Before that, we had no clients. We had to terminate courses. All services had to be put on hold. We still had rent to pay, as well as taxes. I don't know how we managed to do it. We just got lucky.

I have a lot of support from my husband Christoph. He is French. We met on social networks, and he came to Odessa to learn Russian. He wrote to me and asked to show him the city. I helped him out. That is how we started dating.

Never give up

I am very proud of my family. My family is the ones who inspire me. If I didn't have children, I wouldn't probably have the incentive, sense to change something in my life.

Our beauty studio takes care of people. Thanks to the studio, I have the opportunity to help old ladies, children, and animal by buying food for animal shelters. My secret is simple — you need to be open, kind, strive for something. and never give up.

Interviewer Oksana Maslova

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