We continue a unique series of materials about Ukrainians who have lost their jobs after the war started. These people began learning Java thanks to the CodeGym’s donation program.
Millions of Ukrainians have lost their jobs and keep losing their savings due to the war. Danila Stelmakov is one of them. He was a professional cameraman, working on TV and YouTube projects, but lost his job when the war started.
I was a professional cameraman
I am from Crimea, which is now occupied by Russia. After school, I went to study programming. My specialty was called "Maintenance of computer systems and networks". But we mainly learned electrical grids and mechanics, and there was very little teaching material on programming. We only studied Pascal, and I wasn't interested in that. So, I started thinking about another profession.
My family is creative. There are photographers among my relatives, so I started taking pictures. My sister, who moved to Kyiv, signed me up for a camera course. In 2011, I moved to Kyiv, studied, and started working for a television channel as a cameraman.
In 2013, the Euromaidan happened. I worked for a news channel back then, so I went through the entire Maidan as a field cameraman, filming everything that happened during the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity. The following year, the Russian army occupied Crimea, where my parents lived (and still live).
It was scary under the Russian shellings
On February 24, at 5 am, I was awake and heard a strange sound. I thought it was the thunder. I opened the window, saw flashes, and heard a bang. I started calling friends and relatives; none of them could believe that the war had started. On the news, they said there were terrible traffic jams on the roads out of Kyiv. Cars were almost stuck.
My sister told us to leave Kyiv because it was not safe there, but my wife and I did not leave because we understood that we would not be able to get out. So instead of evacuating, we went to the shop, stood in a long line, and bought some food.
On the same day, our government declared a curfew in Kyiv, which lasted for five days — no one was allowed to go out at night. We live in an apartment complex next to Irpen, Bucha, and Gostomel. These towns near Kyiv were occupied and suffered the most from the Russian army. On Obolon (Kyiv district), people even saw a Russian tank. It was scary.
Before the curfew started, my friends came to us and stayed. We spent five days together in the basement and our flat. It was scary when Kyiv’s suburbs were under the shellings, and the house walls were shaking from the explosions.
We met our neighbors in the shelter. The war brought us closer. We even celebrated our neighbor's birthday right there, in the basement. When the curfew was over, our neighbor came to us and offered to go with him to the railway station.
It turned out that the station only announced the train's departure time, not the place. Station management did this to avoid sabotage. So, we were running around the station and asking what was happening and where. Eventually, we came at the right track. And the moment the train arrived, the air-raid siren went on. There were many people, and everyone was trying to get on the train. We were lucky that the bunch of us grouped up and made our way in.
The train stood still for a long time because of the air raid siren. We didn't run to the shelter, otherwise, we would miss the departure. When the train finally took off, there were at least eight people per compartment. It was a very long ride to our destination.
We arrived in Lviv at 1 a.m. Luckily, volunteers were working at the train station, and we could get some food, coffee, and tea. Unfortunately, there was no room inside the railway station because the refugees had taken up all space. So, we waited outside for the curfew to end, until 7 a.m. Eventually, volunteers put us up in a hotel in Lviv, and we paid nothing for it. We lived in Lviv for a few months and returned to Kyiv when it was calmer there.
It was time for a career change
Before the war started, I resigned from the channel where I was a cameraman. I had worked in television for many years, but I saw zero development opportunities, so I decided to leave. I quit my job and became a freelancer, making videos for YouTube.
On the first day of the war, managers told me we would stop working for a week. And that week has been going on for six months now. There is no filming because of the war. So, I've been out of work since February.
Once my friend asked me to help her: she needed to install Windows on her laptop. The unique thing was that I had to write the code to do it. I sat up overnight and got it all installed. Thanks to that, I remembered I knew a thing or two about coding. I thought it was just the right time for a career change and found out about a free training opportunity at CodeGym. And I took it!
I like that CodeGym doesn't just have lectures but allows me to write code immediately. So, the theory here is combined with practice. Of course, I didn't understand much initially, but the more I learned, the more I knew. Along with my coding studies, I even created a website for a customer.
There's still a long way to go. I was a professional cameraman, and now I'm starting all over again. But I hope to get a new profession with CodeGym’s help.