More Courage

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In October 2014 we ran a story written by a young man living in one of the hardest hit areas in the war Russia and Ukraine find themselves in. As you read the following letters, remember that the ones helping are living under the same conditions as those being helped. We have given our young writer the pen name, Courage. 

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Photos used with permission.


Letter 9.  February 11, 2015

     I have found work that allows me to feel wonderful. I am a volunteer. People from other regions are coming here who were forced to leave their homes because of the constant shelling. A vegetable cellar in February is not a very easy place to live. They go where they can: some go to other regions in Ukraine and some to our city. Our “government” [those now controlling the area] gave the refugees rooms in dorms at one of our local universities. The conditions are awful, but it is better than living on the front lines. 

     I and a couple of friends decided to help these people as far as our strength and means will allow. Since it was not realistic to help everyone, we decided to concentrate our attention on one dorm. At this time there are about 80 people there (the exact number is hard to say because each day new people come). “The government” gave them food once and bed sheets. (That was more than three weeks ago. New arrivals have been given no help.) To make a long story short, something had to be done, especially if you consider that there’s no heat or water. So my friends and I began to collect dishes (cups, plates, spoons, pots, pans), warm clothes (coats, boots, jeans, sweaters), food (potatoes, home preserves, macaroni, sugar, salt), furniture and different such things.

    We went to all our neighbors and friends and collected a huge amount. Every day people bring us new things. Today we got five large bags: dishes, home preserves, honey. It’s wonderful, simply wonderful. I mean, it’s wonderful to think how many people are willing to care about the problems of strangers. When I stirred up interest among my neighbors, I never thought that the very next morning they would bring enough things to fill an entire van!  And they are still bringing things. Most important, they spread the word to their friends and so new people are helping. . . .

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I’ve heard so many different stories, and have met so many wonderful people, that I can’t begin to tell you everything. Take yesterday, for example. A woman called and said she had gathered five trunks of things and asked us to collect them for her since it was difficult for her to get them to us. I called some of the refugees and found three young guys who were willing to help. When they thanked the woman, she, for almost five minutes, asked us to forgive her because she was able to do so little! Yet what she did was incredible. I could not imagine why she would ask us to forgive her! There are too many stories like this to tell. I can’t even remember them all. —Courage

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Letter 10.  February 14, 2015

     Today they’re saying that there will be a cease fire—even, supposedly, the end of the war. On this account I have such hopes, as well as fears of being disappointed again. I don’t know what will happen. The day before yesterday we were so heavily fired on. Three near us have been killed and there is a new huge pile of rubble. My friend’s workplace was hit by two shells. Yesterday and last night the shelling did not let up. So I don’t know, I don’t know. The cease fire is due to start tonight at midnight. We wait for it as if we were waiting for New Year’s. It would be much better than any New Year’s celebration. —Courage

 ©preInterestEng. July 2013  §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff or used with permission.  §  To contact us: