- Posted March 5, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Kids of new Ukraine
In the midst of tension that exsists on the Ukraine-Russia border, she told us that men are volunteering to be drafted into the army, and women are learning to tend bullet wounds. "My 15-year old daughter has asked me for permission to sign up for a free medical training in first aid," she said. "Some will consider my thoughts naïve or too optimistic, but I do believe that our kids will be better people because of what they have been a part of during the last three months."
- Verybecoming, CNN iReport producer
My 15-year old daughter has asked me for permission to sign up for a free medical training in first aid. A private clinic Boris (one of the largest in Ukraine) offers this training for free to those who want to learn. In five very tense days with Russian troops controlling Crimea and tension along the borders with Russia, my country is desperately praying for peace, but men all over Ukraine are volunteering to be drafted into the army and women (including 15 year old girls) are learning how to tend to bullet wounds. Sometimes it all seems surreal. It can’t be happening, not in Ukraine!
Throughout these 3+ months of Revolution of Dignity in Kiev and the last few days of Russian invasion in Crimea I often ask myself how all this is going to affect our children in a long term.
It breaks my heart when my 10 year old cries in fear and asks if daddy will have to go to war, what will happen if Kiev is bombed or Russian tanks come here. It breaks my heart when in the middle of a family dinner my 15 year old weeps because she remembers the heroes who laid their lives for our freedom. It breaks my heart to think about evacuation plans for my kids. It’s hard to explain to them why after we take them some place safe we would plan to come back and be with our people through whatever challenges the war presents.
But I am also encouraged. I believe our kids will grow up loving their country, Ukraine, much more than we ever did. Their lessons in patriotism are coming not just from textbooks but from first-hand experiences on Independence Square (Maidan). When I see them joining their small voices with thousands of voices on Maidan singing National Anthem of Ukraine, I can tell that the words come from the heart. It’s not just a song, it’s a vow to protect freedom of Ukraine! They asked me to buy yellow and blue ribbons (the colors of Ukrainian flag) and put those on their backpacks. They initiate Ukrainian-speaking nights in our Russian speaking family!
I believe our kids will grow up as a much more responsible citizens who feel the ownership of their country and future. They will not skip voting in elections thinking that their vote doesn’t matter. They will want to contribute sacrificially to the good of their country. I see the seeds are being planted when they come with their parents to clear the debris left by riot police attacks on protesters. They get their hands dirty picking up trash and their faces shine with pride and hope – they are already contributing to building better future of Ukraine.
I believe they will grow up hating corruption and appreciating freedom. As we lay flowers on the ground still soaked with blood of Maidan heroes, we all promise to never forget their sacrifice, to not allow the old corrupt systems to ever resurrect, to never support those systems with our bribes and compliance. We explain to our kids what a high price was paid for this chance to build something new! They could have heard these kinds of things in a classroom and it would pass through them without ever touching their hearts. But as I see tears running down the faces of adults and kids, I know this lesson is reaching deep.
We hope our kids will never forget how Maidan says goodbye to the heroes as the coffins are brought through thousands of mourners crying “Heroes never die”. These months taught all of us the true courage, the victory over our own fear. We learned that, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
I worry about my kids’ psychological trauma. We have all been through a lot already, and very hard times might be still ahead as possibility of war is looming over Ukraine. Some will consider my thoughts naïve or too optimistic, but I do believe that our kids will be better people because of what they have been a part of during the last three months.