Ivanna Onufriichuk: TV Host, Foundation Founder, and Future Mother – Life Between Takes

Ivanna Onufriichuk, known for her roles as a TV host and founder of the charitable foundation IvAlive, is looking forward to motherhood. Known for her dynamism in the television and philanthropic sectors, Ivanna continues her pace even amidst significant personal changes. 

Living in Switzerland, she carries on supporting Ukrainians abroad, creating a “little Ukraine” in Europe. As she expects the birth of her child with her husband, Kazakh businessman Almaz, Ivanna prepares for a new chapter in her life where she plans to combine the roles of motherhood with her charitable activities and television career.

How do you plan to balance your career and motherhood responsibilities after your child’s birth? Are there any special changes or adaptations you anticipate?

I don’t foresee any significant changes. New responsibilities will emerge, and while I desire to remain as involved in all the operational aspects of my charity, IvAlive, as I am currently, it won’t be feasible immediately after giving birth. Therefore, I’ve prepared by expanding our team and hiring trusted specialists who can manage most tasks in my absence. This setup allows me to spend as much time as possible with my newborn, an essential period for bonding and understanding my child’s needs and establishing a routine. For the first month after delivery, I plan to take a passive role in work.

Gradually, I will start reengaging with projects and operational tasks, initially online and later in person. Knowing myself, I realize I can’t stay away from work for too long, as I am used to being actively involved and interacting with my team. I must oversee everything and stay informed about what’s happening at the foundation since it’s a project close to my heart.

I think when I start working again, I’ll bring my baby along. I often see mothers who manage well while keeping their children close, which helps the child adapt to social environments and remain active from a young age. Alternatively, I’ll ask for help from family—my mother and sisters have expressed their willingness to assist and have advised against hiring nannies or helpers, promising to be there for us. I’m open to this arrangement, though its practicality remains to be seen.

Do you plan to continue your charitable activities during your pregnancy and after your child’s birth? How do you intend to manage that?

I will continue my good deeds with IvAlive and intend to do so moving forward. The prospect of motherhood hasn’t slowed me down, and I’m confident that the arrival of our child will not alter my desire to spread kindness globally. Pregnancy has deepened my understanding of women and mothers, continually inspiring new ideas for thematic projects. Therefore, I aim to develop the foundation further, expand our operations, and grow our team. Additionally, I dream of opening a branch in Ukraine to help our people there as well. This is definitely in the plans, needing only a bit of time to find a trusted team in Ukraine.

Putting anything on pause is no longer an option. We have many critical processes, programs, and projects that are well-established within the foundation, and new opportunities and ideas arise daily. We constantly receive new proposals and initiatives from individuals and organizations, which we embrace and support. I feel a tremendous responsibility and see the essential need for our foundation, so there’s no question of halting or slowing down our efforts. We will operate as before, just with a new little team member. I think it will be quite exciting.

What traditional Ukrainian customs and rites do you wish to pass on to your child? How do you plan to integrate them into your multinational family’s life?

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From the outset, I want to instill the Ukrainian language in my child—singing lullabies in Ukrainian, playing Ukrainian music, and speaking to her in our mother tongue, so she always hears and understands it.

As my child grows, I first and foremost want to impart the importance of Ukrainian traditions, which are significant to me and my family. I want her to know important Ukrainian dates, major events, and national symbols like bread, the embroidered shirt, and the ancestral home. It’s crucial to instill in her the value of family and kin, to understand the importance of maintaining connections with everyone, sticking together even though we are scattered across the globe.

Regarding traditional customs, I would like my child to experience the uniqueness and grandeur of holidays like Christmas and Easter. For example, we gather at home for a large meal on Christmas Eve, then sing Ukrainian songs, and over several days, we visit all our relatives. Similarly, before Easter, we used to gather with my sisters and nieces to make decorated eggs. We divided the tasks—some boiled the eggs, others painted them, and others applied decorative stickers. Everyone then chose their decorated eggs for their basket. We always had one large family basket that the adults took to church to be blessed, but each child also had a small basket containing homemade Easter bread and personally decorated eggs. I want to maintain and pass on this tradition to my child.

These are the customs I recall first and foremost. Of course, I will also share other traditions, such as going to the lake on Ivan Kupala Day to make wreaths, bringing a festive meal to godparents on Christmas Eve—a tradition in Vinnytsia where I’m from; wearing embroidered shirts on national holidays and not only, celebrating Independence Day, making pancakes and dumplings for the Kolodia holiday, remembering those no longer with us and visiting them not only on memorial days but also whenever possible.

Regarding integrating these into our multinational family’s life, I don’t foresee any issues. Since we’ve been acquainted, my husband has been familiar with these traditions because we always gather with relatives for holidays, and accordingly, he and his close ones join us, making us one family. I used to think I was just fortunate to meet someone with similar values, but now I realize his nationality also plays a role. He is Kazakh, and for his nation, respecting family, ancestors, and the traditions of his people is just as important as it is for Ukrainians. Naturally, I will teach our child Ukrainian culture from my side, while my beloved and his relatives will teach their culture.

Your husband Almaz has different cultural and religious roots. How do you plan to address potential cultural differences in raising your child?

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Regarding different cultures, I rejoice because there is a lot in common between Ukrainian and Kazakh cultures. We both value similar traditions and customs. Almaz’s family also gathers for national and family holidays, singing their songs and wearing national attire. For example, my mother-in-law once brought traditional Kazakh dresses for me, my mother, and my grandmother, and Almaz and his mother gladly wear embroidered shirts during our celebrations. Therefore, I don’t foresee any cultural conflicts; instead, we plan to teach our child to respect and love both cultures.

Regarding our children’s religion, Almaz and I discussed this early in our relationship. Understanding that this issue would inevitably arise if we were to build a family, it was better to agree from the start. I explained to him that I never planned to marry and build a life with someone of a different faith. Because I am a devout and religious person, raised in the church, it was important for me to instill the same values, canons, and traditions in my children. Almaz accepted my stance, and we agreed before marriage that our children would be Orthodox, baptized, and attend a Ukrainian church. Being raised in Orthodoxy, they will also learn about other religions, including their father’s, and can choose their own faith when they come of age.

How does your work and support for Ukrainian children and their families through your charity foundation Ivive influence your view on raising your children in the future?

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Over the past two years, I’ve been consistently working with children and their parents through my charity, which supports Ukrainian child refugees and their mothers who fled the war and found refuge in Switzerland. We strive to create a little Ukraine here to provide them with emotional support and to ensure the children are familiar with their native culture. Besides that, we also help them socialize and integrate into their new society. This has given me the opportunity to observe how children interact with their parents and other children and to draw my own conclusions.

The most important insight I’ve gained is the significance of allowing children to express themselves and helping them discover their talents. It’s crucial to support them in what their hearts are drawn to—be it sports, painting, music, or anything else. It’s imperative not to box children into specific roles or project one’s unrealized dreams onto them. I’ve learned that I will support my own child in whatever interests them, helping them find what brings them joy in life.

Additionally, working with these children has shown me how vital socialization is. Children can truly blossom in the presence of their peers. Thus, I dream that as my child grows, they will always be with me and surrounded by other Ukrainian children, from whom they can learn the language, values, and the resilient, undeterred spirit that allows them to dream despite everything.

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