A Story of Resilience and Hope: An Interview with Kateryna Romanchenko, CPM Slovakia
As we approach International Women's Day, the theme of #EmbraceEquity reminds us of the ongoing struggles for gender equality, as well as the importance of valuing and embracing diversity in all its forms. This year, we speak to Kateryna Romanchenko, a member of our team who has shown remarkable resilience and determination in the face of adversity.
In the early morning of February 24th, 2022, Kateryna Romanchenko's phone was on silent mode. She had the day off work and was completely unaware that her family members and loved ones were desperately trying to make contact with her. They had ominous news: the war had begun. It was at that moment that she heard loud banging at her apartment door. A stranger appeared in the entrance, informing her with palpable urgency that the conflict had started. Kateryna was in utter disbelief. The threat of war had been looming for quite some time, but deep down, she felt that the conflict would be averted. In that moment of realization, everything felt surreal. After all, she thought, "this is the 21st century."
Kateryna's response was immediate and without hesitation. She began packing "only the essentials." Believing that this would be a very temporary situation, she left her home and did not return. She spent the first five days in an underground basement, taking shelter from the bombardment and attempting to remain safe.
It is hard to even imagine how Kateryna was feeling during these terrifying days. It was then that she received the news that her employer was terminating all business relationships with Russian customers in response to the invasion. Kateryna was out of a job. Shortly afterward, she was forced to make the very difficult decision to leave her beloved country.
"There was panic and uncertainty everywhere," she recalls. Putin's so-called Special Military Operation had arrived on the streets of her hometown. Kateryna drove for four days straight and long into the night. Her destination was Slovakia. "I decided I needed to secure my future."
It was a truly surreal experience for Kateryna. She was forced to leave her homeland in such terrifying circumstances, unsure as to when she would see her family and friends again. But she arrived in Slovakia and began exploring her options for employment. Her first job did not suit her. "Too many restrictions, too many angry customers and too much stress." She decided to leave the job and take some time out to visit Italy, but ultimately, Kateryna saw Slovakia as the most suitable location for her to live.
A friend recommended CPM. She went for an interview and was successful. "From the first day at CPM, I felt it was an extremely friendly environment. A very people-oriented place. I really enjoy my work."
Since the one-year anniversary of the war, Kateryna has felt a strong homesickness. Quite naturally, she is longing to be reunited with her family and loved ones after such a long time. She acknowledges that she has settled well into Bratislava and admits that her life for the foreseeable future is here now. The future of her country remains uncertain.
When asked about her future, her response is filled with determination and belief. "My plan here in Bratislava is to do my best." Kateryna is determined to focus on her career. Her former life in Ukraine has been put on hold, and she has had to start everything from scratch. Kateryna wants to move forward in all areas of her life. "To live my life on maximum mode, experience new things and never stop achieving."
"Slovakia, as well as CPM, have been very welcoming for me, and it was easy to integrate," she says. Speaking about the future prospects of her own country, Kateryna firmly believes that her strong and resilient nation will endure, triumph, and ultimately prosper.
As we come to the end of our interview, I would like to ask you, Kateryna, what message do you have for women around the world on this International Women's Day, with the theme of #EmbraceEquity?
To always remember that we are stronger together. No matter where we come from, what our background is, or what challenges we face, we are all united in our fight for equality and justice. We must continue to challenge gender stereotypes, speak out against discrimination and injustice, and support each other in our journeys towards equity.
Embracing equity means valuing and celebrating our differences rather than trying to erase them. Each and every one of us has a unique story to tell, and our differences are what make us strong and resilient.
I also want to remind women that no matter how difficult the circumstances may be, we must never give up hope. Even in the darkest of times, there is always a glimmer of light that can guide us towards a better future. We must continue to dream big and work hard to make those dreams a reality.
And finally, I want to thank everyone who has supported me on my journey so far. I am grateful for the opportunities that I have been given and for the people who have believed in me and helped me along the way. Together, we can create a more equitable and just world for all.