Evgeny Korobka, Qumaron CEO, told us in an interview on March 11, 2022 how his team helps women and children thats needs to sleep at the Lviv railway station, and how our readers can support his initiative.
Evgeny, how did February 24 start for you?
I was in Kyiv. Suffered from insomnia before this for several months. And so at 4:48 I sat in my laptop and read the news. And I saw on the news that… Putin signed the start of the military operation. While I was reading this news, it became 5:01… And there were explosions outside the window. On Facebook, photos started to appear one after another in the feed, such as “The Dnieper is being bombed … Explosions in Kharkiv … Explosions in Sumy …” And so all the cities in a row. This is how the day started. I woke up the wife quietly, said not to scream, not to be nervous.
And you left?
No, we were still two days in the city, watching the situation. We really didn’t want to leave. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that all over Ukraine, in seventeen regions… And then a friend called and said: well, you need to leave. A fellow once left Donetsk in the same way, so for him this is already a repeated story.
We were driving in a traffic jam at a speed of 2 km/h. I drove and looked into my phone. Half an hour later, I saw the news that the first hit squard (sabotage and reconnaissance group) broke through on Obolon, and this squrd started to fight right in my area. Then there was a tank, it was blown up, then there were some exploding KAMAZ trucks, which were also destroyed. Like this. And then almost 40 hours in traffic jams.
Where were your team members? How did this day started for them, and what happened in the first days?
The Ukrainian part of the team was mostly in Kyiv, some of the guys were in the west of Ukraine, someone was in the eastern part, the rest were in other countries.
All week before the invasion, the mood of the people was very depressed. I wrote in a working chat that we are monitoring the situation, we are all in touch …
Wait a second, the kids are here, I’ll move to a quieter place.. We just live here with several families …
So, in a working chat, I asked everyone not to panic, to act according to the situation. The first and most important thing is to keep in touch, the second is to act according to the situation.
During the first days of the war, some of the guys went far from Kyiv. In Kyiv, we still have finance director, service, support, but most of the guys left. There are guys near Kiev who also stayed in their homes. Someone is in Vinnitsa now. There are guys who hardly escaped from Zaporizhzhia, there were some guys from Kharkov they couldn’t leave for a long time.
Now we are actively trying to find accommodation in Lviv for the employees who remained in Kyiv, after all, they need to be taken out of there. Everything is not easy for everyone, everyone has dogs, cats, no one wants to leave their pets. None of us left the pets, they brought everyone with them. Here in the west of Ukraine it is now very difficult with accommodation. Too many people have come. We hope that on Monday-Tuesday we will take out those who left.
The team is safe in general. We still have one person in a hot spot in Sumy region, surrounded by tanks. And the art director was generally at the epicenter, near Vorzel, near airport, where the battles are very active. He managed to find a pause and escape, we worried about him the most, everything was really bad there, Kadyrov’s squad acted there. And, in general, the guy broke out, drove to Zhytomyr, but yesterday Zhytomyr was also attacked. Now Zhytomyr is more or less calm, the art director is still there.
We will decide what to do. All our people must be alive. Not only our people, everybody must be alive.
You write on Facebook that you are now actively involved in helping women and children at the Lviv railway station. Tell us about it.
Lviv has now turned into such a huge hub, where women and children are taken by all possible means. Men either sign up for military force or continue to work, if possible.
Here we are trying to be useful. The main part of our team knows how to do some things on the Internet, so of course guys like cyber army help the real army. And we volunteer at the train station. It so happened that we learned from the hostess of the house where we were stay that there were only three volunteers on the fifth platform… The first sandwiches were made at home, and the hostess took us to the station. Mothers with children are forced to wait for a train to Europe right there, at the station… I didn’t understand the full picture…
How many people per day pass through the station?
From 10 to 30 thousand people arrive at the station every day, and 10-15% of them pass through our volunteer post, they need food, water, tea, diapers and so on for children.
Now we serve the fifth platform, we are called now – the Fifth Platform group. People leave from there. And since people are afraid to miss the train or want to leave early, many of them simply stand in these stone tunnels, hiding from a possible bombardment. They stay for a long time, for days. A terrible situation, because, firstly, it’s cold, the frosts strikes, and, secondly, they are all children and women. And there are so many of them… For example, I can calculate even only disposable cups, just from the simple cups that we buy. About 3.5 thousand glasses are spent per day, these are only cups. 250 loaves of bread! And it’s not the most expensive.
Before us, there were no centralized supplies. Food, warm clothes, blankets, children’s mattresses, chairs, tables and other things.
In general, the hostess of the house threw a list of necessary things for the purchase into the chat, and then I saw a photo of the girls sleeping with the children in the baby care room. Give me a second. (Evgeny holds back tears, turning away from the computer camera) I thought we should do something with this.
Did all the team join to this volunteer activity?
We’ve separated. Part of the team is trying to work, because games should bring money, because this is the salary of the whole team, and money is so much necessary and important now. The company must survive. So part of the team is working.
The guys who settled in more or less calm areas are starting to return to work. There are some guys defending the city, while returning from duty they continue to design, we have such cases. I don’t pull anyone, well, how are the guys pull? It seems to me that everyone understands the importance of the situation, they are trying to return to work as actively as possible.
When the war started, we had an important phase on two projects, serious updates were planned. Now we are coming back to them, we want to release them at least in April. For now, I split my day in half – first volunteer, and the rest of the time I’m doing game design and browsing chats.
Some of our employees are engaged in informational assistance: they help people with finding answers to questions, with legal things, with trips, with relocations, and so on. They make instructions and post them in volunteer chats.
And I and several directors are engaged in the station. We announced a fundraiser. Many people supported the fundraiser. We started purchase. Approximately on the third day, we already saw that the baby care room started to fill with the necessary stuff. We bought changing tables, diapers, a wheelchair for children who do not walk, so that they could be taken to the trains. And today we learned about the kindergarten, where children and mothers can go, if they cannot leave the country for several days. This kindergarten also needs to be supplied.
Now we are more engaged in the fifth platform, because it is cold there, there is a street, and there is a lack of everything. Tents are needed in order to keep warm.
The first call was good, we raised a good amount, I haven’t announced the numbers yet, I’ll calculate later and show everything. Within three days, the amount turned out to be good, the guys from abroad helped. There were transfers of 100 hryvnas, and 2 thousand hryvnas, and 20 thousand hryvnas, but our check is getting bigger every day. Today we spent 2.5 thousand dollars. Tomorrow the list will be even longer. That’s how we work.
Let everything end faster, let you have enough strength for everything. You are doing a very great job.
We have no other option.
Yesterday our Minister of Defense said the right thing: the country’s economy during the war is also an important foundation. The economy should, if not grow, than at least stay afloat. A company like our is essentially special troops, generating profitability and foreign exchange inflow into the country.
I know what my guys are doing. I will not say it out loud, but they are seriously helping the country today with their skills as programmers and UA specialists. And we are volunteering.
At the same time, none of my guys was going to give bribes or cross borders. Nobody wants to fight, but the mood is like this: if we have to, we’ll take guns, we’ll go to war. Since the stuff is like that. This is our country!
- Eugene ‘s Facebook page, where he writes daily reports.