Anna Petrova: I bow down to everyone who takes part in helping our Ukraine

The first issue of Business ML Portugal is dedicated to Ukraine, and today we talked to Anna Petrova, who owns the Amor Perfeito salon in Lisbon.

She takes an active part in supporting Ukrainians in this difficult time: the girl opened a humanitarian aid center on the territory of her salon.

Anna shares with us how the war in Ukraine affected their work.

Anna, hi!

Hi! Before starting, I would like to express words of support to the entire Ukrainian people, who are experiencing all the horrors of the war.

I would also like to express my admiration for our fighters, who have been opposing the second army of the world for the second month now. Thanks to their courage, Ukraine remains a free country.

Not only fighters deserve admiration. Admiration is worthy of the entire Ukrainian people, who are now more united than ever and determined to win, despite all the grief that they have to endure.

Tell us how long you have been living in Portugal.

We all feel the invisible threads that connect us with our homeland, no matter how far from it and how long we would not be away. In my case it is 20 years.

In the early 2000s, my parents immigrated to Portugal, and, of course, I, then a 12-year-old girl, came with my mother to this distant and wonderful country.

How old is your salon? Are you clients usually representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora or Portugueses?

Our beauty studio will be 5 years old in October.

In the beginning, most of the clients were «‎ours» — people from Ukraine, Moldova and other countries of the former Soviet Union. But over time, Portuguese customers also learned about the quality of our service. Now we have about 25 different nationalities in our client base. We are loved by clients from Portugal, Angola, Italy, Poland, Holland, France, Spain and many more. Of course, our beloved Ukrainian women, who have trusted us with their beauty from the very beginning, have also been with us all these years.

As we know, you are originally from Ukraine. How are you experiencing this terrible moment for your homeland? Are all your loved ones safe now?

My family is from Zhytomyr, but a huge part of it lives in Kyiv. There are also relatives in other cities of Ukraine.

Of course, on the first day, we were all shocked and horrified by what was happening. At the beginning there was a complete misunderstanding and rejection of the situation, but it was necessary to act urgently, since my grandfather and grandmother on my father’s side are deaf and dumb people with disabilities, they could not even hear the alarm sirens and hide in time. With great difficulty, we brought to us here, in Portugal, my grandmother, grandfather and their neighbor, the same deaf-mute grandmother who has no one. Our ranks of grandparents have grown.

My maternal grandfather stayed in Zhytomyr. He did not want to leave his home and his sons, who remained to defend Ukraine. No matter how we begged him, he remains «‎on his land», despite all the danger, but without losing optimism. He fully believes, like all of us, in our victory.

With regards to other members of our family, someone else is in Kyiv, someone is already in Europe, someone is in Western Ukraine.

We have a common chat with my sisters, and every day we do a «roll call» to know that they are safe.

Of course, we will not be calm until all our cities are liberated, and we cannot hug everyone.

What impact did the war in Ukraine have on the activities of your salon? Have there been any changes?

The war had an impact on everything that surrounds us, including the activities of our studio!

Almost all of our employees are from Ukraine. The war united us very much, we all became more reverent and more careful to treat each other. Girls empathize and provide all possible assistance to both their colleagues and clients who come to us. After all, we are not only about beauty, but also about the state of mind and support — there is no way without it.

We also accepted new workers — refugees from Ukraine — into our team, and we do everything in our power to make them feel comfortable.

Now on the territory of your salon there is a center for collecting humanitarian aid for Ukraine. Please tell us more about it.

Indeed, next to our studio, we organized a center for collecting humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

On the first day of the war, it was very difficult for us morally. In psychology, this is called the survivor syndrome: when you feel guilt and shame for being safe, while your family is in danger. I think that many Ukrainian immigrants around the world felt this, but we had to get together and decide how we can help our homeland. Then the decision to open a center for collecting humanitarian aid was born. All our employees and clients have been very supportive.

At the same time, we managed to negotiate for the next room, which was empty, so that for the time being it would serve as a warehouse for us, primarily for medicines. We agreed on transport to send them to Ukraine, and contacted Ukrainian volunteers to clarify their priority needs.  During the first week of the camp, more than a thousand boxes of food, clothing and first aid items were collected.

Many Europeans want to help Ukrainians at this difficult moment for their country.  Tell me, what help is needed now in the first place?

From the first day our aid collection center opened, we were pleasantly surprised by such a huge number of Portuguese people who wanted to help us. But not only the Portuguese expressed their support to us. As mentioned above, visitors to our studio hailing from various European and South American countries continuously came to us with a huge amount of help. Starting from 5-year-old children, ending with 80-year-old old people, people brought everything they could to help all day long. It was very touching from the first second.

I can’t help but mention the Portuguese, who offer housing, contract work, and do their best to create comfortable conditions for the elderly, women with children. Doctors provide free consultations, teachers give Portuguese lessons for Ukrainians, lawyers and psychologists offer their help.

I bow down to everyone who takes part in helping our Ukraine.


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