By Crystal Harrell

When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the attack that was internationally considered a war of aggression has spiraled into something even more devastating. It has triggered Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, with over 3.8 million Ukrainians leaving the country, and millions more being internally displaced. The current crisis hits especially close to home for one Coachella Valley resident who still has family living in Ukraine.

Nadia Popova is a life coach and business owner at Send Me A Trainer— a service that allows users the ability to have in-home verified personal trainers with fair rates and the ability to rotate trainers while keeping track of sessions and payments on an app.

Growing up in Ukraine, Nadia moved to California in 2012 where she spent a year in San Diego first, and later relocated to the Coachella Valley in 2013. She still has family living in her childhood home in Mykolaiv, a city near the Black Sea in southern Ukraine. Her mother Valentina has lived there all her life.


“It took us a while to realize the seriousness of the situation because when something like this happens, you think ‘how is this possible?’ You go through stages of realization and it takes time to process. It took us a while to believe that the Russians were seriously attacking Ukraine,” recalled Nadia.

The sound of explosions near the apartment her brother and mother are living in have only just started to become distant after weeks of being scared to death to walk outside. Relatives from her mother’s side are spread out throughout the country and have relocated to Poland and Moldova.

The reason why Nadia’s mother cannot leave the country is due to her health condition, as she had a stroke a year ago and has shown signs of the first stages of dementia. Her older brother is 52 years-old and is not permitted to leave the country due to the law by Ukraine State Border Guard Service stating that men ages 18 to 60 are prohibited from leaving.

Distance plays a factor in Nadia’s ability to assist her family trapped in Ukraine, and although there is not much she can do physically except send funds to them, she helps by sharing the conversation and support of others.

“It’s worth mentioning how powerful we are when we are supporting each other. Support is crucial; if we aren’t supporting each other, we are actually harming each other. It helps relieve the stress immensely. As soon as I show my support to my family from other people sharing positive thoughts and energy, they know they are not alone,” stated Nadia.

Nadia has been dancing for many years and practices her passion at a dance studio in the desert to help relieve the stress she feels about the current war crisis. Her career as a life coach also enables her to give others guidance through her own transformations and journey, even during this difficult time.

“I feel like I have so much to share to others when it comes to finding strength. It took me only ten years to realize how strong humans are and what we are capable of achieving if we just believe in ourselves. If we learn from a mistake and keep moving instead of sabotaging ourselves by not believing, then we won’t be trapped in our little cages of self-doubt,” said Nadia.

Although the war in Ukraine has been devastating news to process for many, Nadia believes that the best way to cope with these circumstances is to remind ourselves every day, first and foremost, that the world is a safe, beautiful place. Despite the darkness surrounding the war, she stands by the notion of holding on to that idea of safety to better cope with current events.

“With the war going on, the belief of safety is going to get compromised. We need to be united and do our best to help stop this as soon as possible. We can keep spreading the word and giving to the cause. This world is a place of growth and love, not death and danger. This is a circumstance that we need to all overcome holding each other’s hands,” shared Nadia.

Nadia is currently in the process of organizing a walk on El Paseo with the City of Palm Desert to help show support for Ukraine. More information on that event and any new developments will be featured in a future edition of CV Weekly.