In the words of Valentyna Nalyvaiko: “The first thing Ukrainians who are living abroad should do is look for opportunities to help the country”


Valentyna Nalyvaiko, Ukrainian refugee based in the United Kingdom.
Valentyna Nalyvaiko, Ukrainian refugee based in the United Kingdom. Photo: Courtesy of Valentyna Nalyvaiko

Due to the war, Valentina Nalyvaiko has had to leave her home in Ukraine twice – first within the country following the 2014 invasion and then again after the full-scale Russian invasion in 2022. She’s had to start her life over again from scratch twice, most recently in the United Kingdom (UK). But thanks to motivation and determination, she has been able to overcome homesickness, study marketing and find work at both a store and a local pub. She has even continued to help her country from abroad, all with the goal of improving the lives of people affected by the war. CureValentina has organized 9 tons of humanitarian aid, large batches of baby carriages and conducted various volunteering events in the UK.


I come from Donetsk, so for me the war started back in 2014. When it became clear that the conflict in the east of the country was taking on a serious scale, my family had to move to Kyiv. My life changed radically from that moment. My father, despite his high position as the head of the intellectual property inspection of Ukraine, decided to voluntarily join the military to protect our home and our country. He recently returned from Bakhmut and Slovyansk.

Before the start of the full-scale war, I worked in marketing. Sometimes, together with a friend who works as a trainer, we organized fitness tours to Egypt and the Carpathians. In my spare time, I conducted training for women. I also did charity work and organized trainings for the shelter ‘In Good Hands’.

On the first day of the war, I, like probably all Ukrainians, could not tear myself away from the news. I was constantly in touch with relatives and friends. I wanted to help, so on the second day of the war, my friend recommended contacting the headquarters of Veteranka, the Women Veteran Movement. I worked with them in the kitchen. We prepared dinners for the military and territorial defense forces, accepted requests for help from the military and civilians, and sometimes sorted things and delivered help to specific addresses. I am proud that fate called me to join the Women Veterans Movement. These are incredible people who are fighting for the rights of women veterans, helping the military and civilians alike during such a difficult time. It is organizations like these that strengthen society and help ensure the future that we all want to live in. I am proud to be a part of it.

In May 2022, when I left for England, it was difficult for me. My heart was heavy because everyone was staying in the country: some were fighting, some were paramedics, some were volunteers, and I was leaving. But then I started asking absolutely everyone in England about help for Ukrainians: the Consul, people at English-language classes, and the people I was living with at that time. I asked for the contacts of local volunteers.

About 9 tons of humanitarian aid were later delivered to Ukraine. This included trench candles, food, several generators, clothes for adults and children, medicine, bed linen, pillows, blankets, baby carriages, and more.

I believe that the first thing Ukrainians living abroad should do is look for opportunities to help the country and not just sit and wait for everything to end. Volunteer groups of Ukrainians living abroad for a long time have already been created in each country.”

This article was produced as part of the UN Women project "Transformative Approaches to Achieve Gender Equality in Ukraine" with the support of the Office of the Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine and with funding from the Government of Sweden.