Friday, February 9, 2024

Ukraine correspondences

Postcrossing has allowed me to connect with many wonderful people from Ukraine over the years. But life changed drastically for many Ukrainians two years ago this month, when Vladimir Putin's murderous Russian forces invaded the sovereign European nation of Ukraine. Many Ukrainian citizens have fled the fighting and become refugees. Whether they are still in the country or not, their futures remain uncertain while the war rages. (And that uncertainty is certainly heightened by Congress failing in recent months to provide the Ukrainian government with the assistance it needs to counter the Russian invasion.)

In recent days I've received a handful of correspondence reminding me of the humans who are affected every hour of every day by this war. 

1. I received the above postcard a few days ago. The text covers the entire back of the card. It states:
"Hello Chris! I'm alive. :) I deeply appreciate your thoughtful card, which brought joy to my life and gratitude for your support of Ukraine. Though I received it on 25th of April, I'm sending this in December 2023 to add a touch of Christmas cheer. The image of a Ukrainian tractor pulling a russian tank is a real story, you can Goolgl it. The inscription means 'Good evening, we are from Ukraine.' Now it's popular phrase. russia is still bombing my country and killing Ukrainians I keep waking up from explosions and listening to missiles and drones shooting down. But we believe in our victory. :) Million times thank you for your card." 
The postcard is unsigned.

2. In the meantime, I requested a new random Postcrossing user to send a postcard to this week, and I happened to receive the address of Ukrainian woman who is now living in Poland with her dog (Gerda) and cat (Murka). It's not clear from her profile whether she moved to Poland before the Russian invasion, or fled there during the past two years to escape the violence. Poland has taken in the most Ukrainian refugees — more than 1.6 million through last July. This Postcrossing member is seeking cards of koalas, owls, fairies, unicorns, Harry Potter and Avatar, so I'll do my best to send some good cheer her way.

3. Through Postcrossing, a Ukrainian and I became pen pals in the spring of 2021, exchanging postcards and letters often. She was (fortuitously?) on vacation in another country when the invasion began two years ago and has been essentially displaced ever since, trying to find a potential home, and perhaps new employment, elsewhere in the world. She's spent time in Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and then Canada for a long stint in 2023. Recently, she had an opportunity to visit loved ones in and around the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. This is part of what she emailed me about the experience:
"And so, here I am — in the freezing, snowy and uncalm city of Kyiv. The atmosphere at the moment is much worse than it was in April when I visited last time. The mobilization policy has been toughened — local authorities catch males literally everywhere in the city and serve them a summons to join the Armed forces of Ukraine. All my male friends, who don't want to find themselves at the war front, panic and not go out much. So, for the last week, I only met with my two female friends. I also visited my company's new office in Kyiv, but it was so short — after the first two hours of working, we received a message asking everyone to go home immediately due to the upcoming military recruitment centre raid in that district. So, as you can see, it's very turbulent. I feel sorry for young men who don't want to participate in the war. I think that war is awful, and even when the country is at war, it doesn't mean that every single man can physically and mentally participate in it. ... So many professionals support Ukraine in another way. And it's so sad that Ukraine doesn't have enough resources and support to win the war, so it ends up using such dirty methods as catching males on the streets. None will be a good soldier by force. So, overall, everything is sad here. And I wish it to end soon (but surely it won't)." 
4. Finally, on February 2, I received this email notification that a Postcrossing card I sent to another Ukrainian on November 26 had finally arrived after more than two months:
"Hello Chris!! Greetings from KYIV!
"Thank you so much for your postcard! Too bad you didn't see my daughter's eyes! When she saw that a letter had arrived for her — she was shocked! It was so sweet and so precious. I took the letter while she was at school and did not open it. When we were leaving school, I said that something special was waiting for her. She was so happy!!!
You have beautiful cats and a big heart. After all, only a person with a big heart can love animals so much :)
"Many thanks to you and your family! I wish you only the best!
"P.S All Ukrainians are infinitely grateful to America! Honestly, it's only thanks to patriot systems that my daughter can sleep in her own bed and not in a bomb shelter.
"From Kyiv with big love!” 

Excuse me, but now I need to go and write more correspondence.