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    Posted March 11, 2014 by
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Ukraine unrest

    MaiaKiev and 14 other iReporters contributed to Open Story: Ukraine crisis as it unfolds
    More from MaiaKiev

    Human Face of Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     MaiaKiev believes that young people were the first to rise up at the start of the Ukraine protests because they felt that their futures were at stake. "Initially they were not demanding resignation of President Yanukovich, they just protested against abrupt change of Ukraine's intentions to sign association with EU," she said. "What young people were choosing was European value system over Russian." She adds that this crisis has also brought out the best in her fellow citizens because, "In face of danger people united as they shared the same dream and the same hunger for freedom. I believe we each had a moment when we did overcome fear and decided to stay with this to the end. We also each had a moment when we overcame selfishness and discovered the pleasure to serve others sacrificially. Every story of heroism that I witnessed made me want to be better, to do my part in contributing to the victory."
    - Verybecoming, CNN iReport producer

    I thought our youth were selfish and shallow, but then they were the first who came to the streets when ex-president Yanukovich decided to hijack the future of Ukraine. They were the first who were beaten by riot police. Their blood was the first sacrifice given for freedom on Maidan (Independence Square in Kiev on Nov 30th. They woke up the rest of us! They are our heroes!

    I thought our elderly were so nostalgic about good old Soviet times that they would never understand and support their grandchildren in their fight for new future of Ukraine. But they joined the young on Maidan, day after day they stood with others in the cold and snow. Some of them were captured and tortured by riot police. Some of them were killed on Feb 18-20th by snipers, some died of pneumonia after being showered from police water cannons in freezing temperatures. They are all heroes!

    I thought our men were too apathetic to stand against a huge repression machine of government, that they were too much of realists and pessimists to believe that anything can be changed when the whole country was one big corruption system. But they got off their couches and came to Maidan, unarmed but determined to fight for freedom. I can’t watch without tears the video footage of the riot police attack on Maidan on Dec 10th when 4 rows of civilians were holding a whole cloud of armed riot police. These men are the heroes!

    I thought our women were easily scared, but they stayed by their men through the toughest times on Maidan. They cooked and served food to protesters, they cared for wounded, they prayed. They stayed even at times when situation seemed hopeless and they were asked to leave. Now they volunteer in thousands to be trained as nurses for pending war with Russia. They are the heroes!

    I thought our children were too spoiled and didn’t care about anything but gadgets, but during the last few months they have grown up, as individuals and as citizens, they fell in love with the National Anthem of Ukraine, they proudly carried flags of Ukraine, they came to help their parents to clean the streets of Kiev after the fights with riot police. They did things to serve others, to serve their country and they will never be the same! They are the heroes!

    I thought our army was weak and demoralized, but they didn’t surrender when they were threatened by Russian troops, and they didn’t switch allegiances when they were tempted by the bribes of new apartments in Sevastopol offered to them in exchange for surrendering. For 10 days now they show incredible courage and restrain under very high pressure. They are the heroes!

    I thought our churches were focused on rituals and distant from lives of people, but then priests and pastors came to Maidan to tell people about power of God, to lead people in prayers, to stand between riot police and protesters. Then churches turned into refuge places and hospitals for the wounded. Christians talked about Christ’s love, but more importantly they showed Christ’s love in their own actions! They are the heroes who give glory to Christ!

    I thought out doctors were corrupt and indifferent. We didn’t blame them, they were underpaid and we knew we needed to pay bribes to get any kind of treatment. But then hundreds of them came as volunteers to Maidan, they went under the rains of bullets to get wounded out, they got shot themselves, they worked days and nights in poorly lit, not equipped improvised hospitals, saving lives. They are the heroes!

    I thought Ukrainians were too disillusioned after Orange revolution of 2004 to stand up for something ever again. But they overcame disappointment, fear, selfishness and laziness. They came to Maidan and stayed there for very long 100 days, through rain and snow, through -25C weather, through attacks of riot police, through deaths and injuries, through threats of anti-protest laws, through kidnappings, through fire and smoke, through cold water from water cannons, through gas grenades and bullets, through hopelessness and tears. And we have won a huge prize – this chance to build a new Ukraine, free of corruption, free of manipulations of Putin, free to choose its future!

    Some people believe that the worst fight is still ahead – the war that Putin is starting on our ground. There might be still even more sacrifices needed to finish freeing Ukraine from Russia’s grip. There will also be an ongoing work of breaking corrupt systems that have infected government structures. But the main battle is already won – it’s the battle within our own hearts – we already got the victory over fear and indifference! I am proud to be Ukrainian! I am proud of Ukraine - the country of many heroes!

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