I met Zoya at the Giving Tuesday global summit in Lisbon. I’m not sure about when, but I think on our first day of work. As soon as I saw her in the hall I thought WOW this beautiful girl looks a hell of a lot like Wednesday Addams from the hit Netflix series.

When I found out that she is from Ukraine and she is the leader for Giving Tuesday in the country, I knew I had to talk to her. I had to congratulate her, even if I look stupid saying GLORY UKRAINE. Even to hug her. I was amazed that there was a Giving Tuesday campaign in Ukraine 2022, given the war, and the fact that such a beautiful, intelligent and seemingly fragile and young girl is here at this meeting to represent the brave spirit of her country, but not to speak and not to condemn Russian aggression, but to speak to us (above 80 country leaders for Giving Tuesday from all around the world) about charity and causes.

Zoya is a wonderful and bold young woman and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know her a little. We spent time together in work meetings, in Sintra, we photographed each other at Cabo da Roca, and drank countless glasses of wine on our last night together.

She also allowed me to photograph her country tattoo as well as to enter a little into her private world to write this story here. And even there, at that first conversation I had with her, in the garden of the incredible 5-star hotel, I knew that I wanted to tell a little more about Zoya.

Stories from Giving TuesdayIntroduce yourself 

Hi there! I’m Zoya, a 26-year-old Ukrainian living in Germany. I work as a communication specialist and have been part of the #GivingTuesday team for three years. I love traveling, reading, and staying active. Oh, and I have the cutest whippet dog, she always makes me smile!

You are the leader of Giving Tuesday in Ukraine. Will you tell me how last year went your campaign in the context of war?

Last year, we saw some big changes within #GivingTuesday because of the ongoing war. The country, especially Ukrainian civil society and the charity sector, went through transformations that affected our activities. We now have to be more cautious and adapt to the situation. We do everything online to avoid risks with public events. It’s important for us to keep developing #GivingTuesday in Ukraine because people need acts of kindness more than ever. It helps bring people together and find support during these tough times.

What motivates you now to keep wanting to make your country more giving and the world a better place? 

I think that it is not about my own desire, but about society. Ukrainian civil society is striving to give and create good deeds. My main motivation is people’s feedback and their reaction to our work.

World of Geri: sharing story

What has changed for you since the beginning of the war in Ukraine? 

The war has had a significant impact on how people think and act in our country. Ukrainians have become more caring towards each other and are thinking more about our country’s future. People are giving more and paying closer attention to social issues. The war has also strengthened our national identity and influenced our lives and decisions. Although it’s been a challenging and traumatic time, it has also united us and made us realize what truly matters.

Do you feel safe where you live now and will you return to Ukraine when the war is over? 

I currently live in Berlin, and I feel relatively safe here. But I’m always anxious because most of my friends and family are still in Ukraine. There’s a constant fear of losing someone at any moment. All Ukrainians have been living with this feeling for a year and a half now. Once the war is over, I definitely plan to return to Ukraine. Kyiv is my favorite city, and I feel at home there.

Why do you think it is important to share the good things we do? 

It’s essential to share our acts of kindness. We believe that we shouldn’t keep silent about the good things we do. Sharing our experiences is crucial for promoting and spreading positivity. That’s why communication plays a vital role in #GivingTuesday. It’s a movement that relies on communication and sharing information. We want to encourage everyone to proudly talk about their good deeds.

Could you tell me how the global summit on Giving Tuesday was different for you? 

Attending the global summit on Giving Tuesday was a fascinating experience. I got to learn about different cultures and the unique challenges faced by various countries. It made me realize that #GivingTuesday is not just about doing good; it’s about being a catalyst for change. Seeing how different cultures adapt the #GivingTuesday idea to their own contexts was truly inspiring.

What have you been dreaming about lately?

Lately, my dreams are centered around Ukraine’s victory. It’s the collective dream of our nation. I dream of returning to Kyiv, living with my family, and feeling safe at home.

Do you want us to share a story about the spirit of your friends left in Ukraine or something inspiring that you believe should reach more people?

I want to highlight the incredible strength and resilience of the Ukrainian community. We are doing so much for our country, and it’s difficult to single out specific activities. Every day, Ukrainians contribute more and strive for victory and well-being.

Bulgarian flag

I’d like to thank Zoya for letting me tell her story this way. I hope Giving Tuesday in Ukraine is going to reach more people this year. And I’ll try the same for Bulgaria with the team I work with 🙂

Also, Слава Україні!

My last words here are:

If you meet someone somewhere and instantly got the feeling that you need to know this person – go and talk with him/her.


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