the February 24, 2022, a few hours after the impact of the first strikes on kyiv, Nadim Saadeh, a French entrepreneur, decided to flee the Ukrainian capital with a dozen fellow expatriates. Head to Poland. Their journey to reach Warsaw lasted 36 hours.
“On the road, it’s really a scene that we would not have imagined. Monster traffic jams. People who leave walking with backpacks and luggage. Ukrainian military convoys going to kyiv, it’s very deep sadness” he says then from the car where he is that morning.
Nadim Saadeh’s company, Tech Trend, specializing in engineering and electrical installations, has been established in Ukraine since 2016. He had to prepare in 45 minutes, tidy up his apartment, pack a small suitcase on the day of departure, most of the 80 employees stayed. Eight of them are on the front. Mid-June. He returned to kyiv again passing through Poland.
“I returned on June 16 for about ten days. First to collect my personal belongings. Without anxiety or fear, on the contrary, with great enthusiasm.”Nadim Saadeh
“When your life has changed overnight, you want to come back as quickly as possible, to find what you have lost. Firstly, my colleagues needed to see me again psychologically. When you have your boss next to you who comes, who supports you, who tells you we are still here and we will continue. It’s not just texting or calling them on the phone. There, physically, I was with them. We made a point, we We talked face-to-face, we went to the restaurant, we drank wine, we saw beer, we ‘partyed’ a bit, just to cheer ourselves up a bit and that’s very important. But in fact, I had no anxiety. I heard the sirens and that’s it.” says Nadim Saadeh.
Asked about the economic situation and the future of his company, he first of all has a thought for his teams with whom contact has been daily and permanent since the start of the war, “Mhe teams, I didn’t really leave them and I checked in on their news. I have never let them down financially. So we continued to pay them until today. Financially, how are we doing? We are reorganizing and it is not easy for me, overnight, to give up and say. Well, come on, I close early, I turn the page. And it was very important for me to resume activity as soon as possible. It is true that the month of March was very difficult. Psychologically it was very difficult because we have our warehouses near kyiv. And every morning, when I woke up, I said to myself if ever our warehouses were bombed, I would end up homeless. So there we go again. We are not going to say from zero, but almost to something to rebuild again, to make everyone work a little, my people who stayed in Ukraine and new teams in France.
says Nadim Saadeh.
Nadim Saadeh was saddened to see how the city of Kyiv had changed since the beginning of the war: “When you arrive in kyiv now, there are not many cars on the streets, so the streets are empty. In some neighborhoods, there are traces of Russian bombings. But people on the street are walking, smiling, The people who stayed, actually, they’re living the best they can.” The entrepreneur wonders about a return to kyiv in the future but hesitates, “I don’t know. Today, I am developing my activity as best as I can in Paris. Living in kyiv is something I would like because I spent two years almost full time in kyiv and they were very good years. But I absolutely want to take part in the reconstruction and I do everything in the contacts that I have with my acquaintances in kyiv and my acquaintances in France, my professional acquaintances to start putting in putting something thing on its feet, so that we will be ready when the war ends and we can start again.”
calm Nadim Saadeh.
If he had been younger, Nadim Saadeh would have joined the front, “If I was 20 or 25 years younger, yes, absolutely. To support a country that is under attack and fighting for us. When I say us, us free men, it’s a fight that concerns us all and that is very important to me. You know, from the first minute I hesitated to leave Kyiv because from the very beginning I didn’t believe that the Ukrainians would be easily defeated, as everyone thought. I lived there, I saw people and I felt that they wanted to resist. And the second thing? And that is something that is very psychological and in which I believe. Freedom is a drug. When you taste it, you can’t live without it.” concludes Nadim Saadeh
As an entrepreneur, Nadim Saadeh is entitled to and still awaits aid from the French government. In the meantime, he follows hour by hour the situation on the military ground and thinks about another round trip to Ukraine in September.