Halyna Malygina: A story of survival in times of war | Schiller International University Skip to main content Skip to footer

On the one-year anniversary of the start of the Ukrainian war, we sat down with our newest recruit, Halyna Malygina, who came to Spain fleeing the war with her children. This is her story.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Halyna Malygina, and I’m 34 years old. I was born in Poland. My father, a former military man, was a colonel in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and had many business trips under the USSR, so when our family was in Poland, I was born and lived there for the first two years of my life. After school, at the age of 14, I entered the communication college in Kyiv (Ukraine) and studied the technical specialty "Multichannel electrical communication” and received the qualification "Technic of Electrical communication". After graduating from college, at the age of 18, I officially started working in my specialty and at the same time received the higher degree of Master at the Communications Academy in Odessa. I worked in my specialty for a long time, but then I decided to change my field of activity and become a Project Manager, that is, to do what I was always good at, organizing processes. So, since 2016, I have been involved in the development and organization of various projects in various fields, such as education, sports and IT. Before the war, I had already worked for two years at the product company Otifarm Data Pro and was engaged in the development of an IT project for pharmaceutical companies - a digital SAAS platform for pharmacovigilance. But the war changed everything in one moment, and the first message I received at 5 am on February 24 was precisely from the owner of our company, "The war has begun."

When and how did you leave Ukraine? Do you have family, and where are they?

In the last two months before the war, we heard a lot that this could happen, but not everyone took it seriously, because no one could think that in the 21st century such a thing was possible. But our family prepared for this just in case. We collected emergency backpacks for each family member with everything necessary for an urgent departure, all documents, and discussed a possible plan of action as a family. A few days before the war, when the situation escalated and we felt that it was no longer just a rumor, we decided to go from Kyiv to the Western part of Ukraine, away from the border with Russia and Belarus. Since I did not have the opportunity to go because of work, I had to take part in a conference as a speaker, only my husband and children went. We decided to play it safe. I woke up on February 24 alone, having learned that the war had begun. In Kyiv, many explosions were heard, and the air-raid alarm was activated, to which I panicked, threw all our backpacks and the cat into the car and drove to get my parents. I was shocked and stressed and unwilling to realize that this was real. I took my parents with my grandmother, and we went from Kyiv to my husband and children who were in Ternopil at that time. It was difficult to get out of Kyiv due to huge traffic jams, we drove more than 18 hours by car, although usually this route can be covered in 5 hours. In a state of war and anxiety, we stayed in Ternopil for 2 weeks, after which I decided that I should leave the country, because it was not getting better, only worse, and this was not the future I wanted for my children. We thought about where to go for a long time, the main thing was to be away from the war. Through acquaintances, I received contacts of volunteers in Germany and Spain. The choice fell on Spain. I contacted them and decided to go on March 12. Together with my cousin and children, we decided to cross the border with Poland on foot, then volunteers were to pick us up. There was horror at the border. We stayed in the crowd for more than 12 hours until we were able to cross the border. I was very worried all the time, so the children were simply not stuffed. Everyone was on their nerves, and the explosions continued. In Poland, we were met by volunteers from Spain, and during the next three days of continuous travel, we reached the city of Huelva. While on the way, we did not even know where we were going, where we would live and what would happen next. Already on the last day, we were informed that they had found accommodation with a nice family living in El Rompido (Huelva, in the South of Spain), and they agreed to take us in. We were very tired but happy. At the same time, my parents, grandmother, brother and his family, and my husband remained in Ternopil. The men were not allowed to leave Ukraine since the first day of the war, and the parents were unable to go because of the grandmother, who is 93 years old and physically unable to take any road. On the same day we left, my husband volunteered for the military and joined the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to defend our country, although at that time he had his own business and had never been in the army before. Now he protects our country on the border with Russia. The family returned to Kyiv last summer and currently resides there.

Through it all, the worst moments are when you try to live on, but you can't. When you are in a beautiful place, there are many nice people who want to help and support you, and you cannot enjoy the scenery or the days. You live as if in a parallel reality. When you collect your children for school in the morning, and you read the news that a mass attack on Kyiv has begun again, and you write to everyone you know to see if they are safe and if everything is fine with them. When you are talking to your mother on the phone, and not far from her house falls a missile and you hear these sounds and your mother's scream through the phone. You live every day and try to pull yourself together because you have to be strong for your children and family. The best moments are those in which I met many beautiful people in Spain. I call them Angels, because it is thanks to them that I am right now where I am and starting a new stage of my life. There are a lot of these people, and I am thankful everyday for knowing them and being able to call them friends, and family where are we are staying now – our Spanish family.

What have you been doing at Schiller, and what would you like to do?

I started my work at Schiller with the "Classlife" project, which we plan to implement at the university as an ecosystem for all management processes. This is a very large and interesting project, with certain challenges and a great purpose and value for everyone at the University, from students and teachers to managers. I like to develop interesting projects, I like to organize and optimize processes, so this is what I plan to do here.

Anything else you want to add?

I am grateful to the Schiller International University team for believing in me and giving me a chance to prove myself in this position. I will not let you down!

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