Messages from a Second Life Creator in Ukraine During Russia’s Invasion – UPDATE: Her City is Now Occupied
While the Second Life community rallies to support Ukrainian users in the virtual world, such help during a time like this can only go so far. I’ve been thinking about that over the last few days while intermittently messaging Hanna, creator of the beloved SL fashion brand Osmia.
While Osmia is listed among the Second Life merchants based in Ukraine, Hanna has not been able to access her SL account lately, and her access to the Internet has been sporadic too.
Or as she expressed it via a social media Instant Message: “You can ask questions. But if I disappear for awhile, it will mean that we are hiding.”
Second Life users have been buying items from her and other Ukrainian merchants in the hopes that they’ll be able to convert the Linden Dollar sales into local currency.
But in Hanna’s case, at least, that won’t happen any time soon:
“I am very grateful to everyone who is worried about me and my [Second Life] store,” she tells me. “Unfortunately, getting money now is not realistic, currency exchange offices do not work with us and it is very dangerous to go to the bank.”
Now sheltering in place with family in one of Ukraine’s major cities, Hanna has more immediate concerns, than cashing out Linden Dollars: She is over 6 months pregnant.
“My husband managed to buy the necessary medicines, including the hormones that I need to maintain the pregnancy. We need to survive heavy shelling. My father and husband want to take me to Poland, but it is very dangerous to travel now. You can get on the road [but will need to face] looters and shelling. There is no clear plan, we are trying to survive.”
Hanna has been posting frequent updates on her status in Ukraine to social media, photos and videos of her home city under brutal, sustained attack, and images of the shelters she has hid inside, to escape bombardment. Next to those are posts from Osmia fans who have tagged her in their screenshots, carefree fashion poses from Second Life. The contrast is surreal and wrenching.
“Honestly,” Hanna tells me, “I don’t know what to write to you. Children, families die, people disappear (they are found shot in their cars)… my city is surrounded. Now I don’t know what this will lead to.”
Another recent post by her suggests another way people who care about her and other Ukrainians might help, well beyond buying virtual fashion — by donating real currency to the National Bank of Ukraine to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Update, 10:58pm: Checking in with Hanna tonight, she sent a harrowing new status: “Hi, my city is occupied. There are a lot of soldiers and equipment on the streets. We don’t go out because they can kill.”
We will continue to re-post updates as we get them.
Zoha Islands wish to extend our prayers and support for all in the war torn Ukraine.