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Battered by two years of war, Ukraine isn’t giving up

A war-ravaged building in Kyiv. (Vlad Zaytsev/YJI)

Kyiv, UKRAINE – Two years ago, a dark morning dawned on Ukraine. War, unwanted and uninvited, came to our houses. We didn’t ask for this cruel battle, but we met it head-on.

In these two years, things have changed. Nobody knew that the best weapon for the first time was actually courage. 

When we sacrificed to help others, we got a warm feeling unlike any other.  Being one big 40 million person Ukrainian family was our last resort.

For every individual, their country is a shelter, a home. It starts at the beginning of our roots and goes until the unknown future.

Every part of our life spreads to the world, screaming its story. 

From Feb. 24, 2022, everyone felt in. Everyone felt the war: soldiers on the frontlines, volunteers in shelters, activists raising voices, the international community, and even ordinary folks lending a hand.

Each played a vital role in protecting our freedom and dignity.

If I could compare Ukraine with a bird, I guess it would be the phoenix. Throughout its history, its rebirth tells us what we are fighting for. I am craving the sight of the Ukrainian phoenix flying free again.

So we share our stories, remembering the pain of the past to ensure it never repeats. We spread it everywhere: in the shelters, under the night sky, in the dusk and dawn, with our loved ones and without them. 

Buildings in the central part of Kyiv. (Vladlen Zaitsev/YJI)

I know that you can’t feel it how I am feeling it. So let’s talk in a logical, stiff way.

According to the United Nations, more than 10,000 civilians have been killed. Millions more are  are displaced. The New York Times reported that nearly 500,000 soldiers died in the first 18 months of the war.

The economic cost of the war keeps growing. Entire Ukrainian cities have been devastated by Russian bombs and our economy is suffering terribly. 

The conflict has devastated infrastructure, with repairs exceeding $150 billion, according to a report in The Independent. Despite international aid reaching nearly $200 billion, the future remains uncertain, with 18% of Ukraine occupied, millions of landmines planted, and ongoing battles claiming lives daily, the newspaper reported.

We may be wounded, but we are not broken. We may be weary, but we are not defeated. As long as love for Ukraine beats in our hearts, hope for a brighter future will never die.

It is heartwarming to see peaceful protests throughout the world in support of my country.

It gives me hope for a miracle.

I am sure that with the help of the international community, we can achieve our goal. But dreaming isn’t enough. It is about work, it is about blood, it is about wounds, it is about loss. 

As the famous quote says, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” right? So let’s be strong to beat the evil that won’t cease unless it is stopped.

Slava Ukraini!

Vladlen Zaytsev is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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