A new beginning in Finland

Ukrainians Maryana Krupenko and Stanislava Balandina escaped the war in Ukraine to Finland. Now they work in Helsinki at AW2 Architects and are building a life in their new home.

AW2 Architects was one of the architectural offices that joined the ‘Help Ukrainian Architects’-initiative set up by SAFA and ATL, through which Maryana and Stanislava sought work.

Interior architect Maryana started her work at AW2 Architects last June and Stanislava soon after her in August. In an interview organised by SAFA the two share their experiences regarding their new life in Finland.

“We decided to leave almost immediately when the bombings began, we had already prepared for the outbreak of war. The sounds of war frightened the children very much, my younger son is only three years old”, Maryana says. Maryana’s husband had to stay in Ukraine, but the rest of the family escaped through Hungary to Poland. Finally, the family ended up in Finland due to the suggestion of Maryana’s friend living here.

Upon arrival in Finland Stanislava took care of practical things and worked in an organisation assisting Ukrainians. Simultaneously she sent job applications to tens of architect offices.

“I was relieved once I got a job. My basic needs are now in order; work, a home, and day care for the kids. I don’t want to move anywhere anymore, I’ve decided to stay in Finland”, Stanislava says. She hopes to have her husband join her in Finland at a later date.

Maryana lives in Espoo and Stanislava in Helsinki. Both say they are content with their current life’s circumstances.

“Finland is a safe and peaceful country, and that is what’s most important. I hope my husband, a civil engineer, can also find work in Finland,” Maryana says.

AW2 Architects is an international architect office with workers from almost ten different countries. According to Maryana and Stanislava, integrating into the already international work community has been easy.

Read Maryana’s and Stanislava’s whole interview here