The Note of Gratitude

This text is your life-changer. Read this To the End. I can guarantee You Will be A Different Person.

So Here I was, 10 Years old, in independent Ukraine in the middle of absolute poverty and doom: depression, alcoholics, gangs, and total anarchy. To create the whole picture right in the early 90s, you could be easily stabbed to death with a screwdriver for $2. Raqueteers were everywhere where was any trade. Gangs and heroin it was everywhere. I was not sure if my dad would make his way back home.

I was terrified. I was sleeping with an axe under my pillow. I could easily compare my country to Somalia or El Salvador. I am sure you think it is a horseshoe ))) Let me give you some details:

  • Crime rates went up and up through the roof. There were very few areas of business where money could be made, and the street gangs called brigades or racketeers tried to control those. If someone had the guts to refuse to pay, they could be killed quickly or severely beaten. The brigades fought each other; I am sure they lost a couple of guys daily.
  • My mom stopped working because it didn’t pay at all. People would go to work as in the old Soviet time. They were not being paid for months and months, and when paid due to inflation, that translated into something that could buy you a box of matches or some bread best case scenario.
  • Many people couldn’t survive this rapid change from a relatively poor but secure existence to something with zero social security, no work, and no hope. All scenarios were worse than the others. People started drinking a lot. There were a few suicides I can remember. Also, some of my mates at school began taking drugs – some hallucinogen pills or inhaling some toxic glue – and the more advanced ones were injecting a “home-brewed” drug made of opiates that made them high for a while and ruined them worse than crack.
  • The older ones had to go to the flea markets and sell their stuff, from books to linen, to have money to buy bread.
  • Everything started declining. Skilled engineers had to work at construction sites or as taxi drivers to survive.
  • If you wanted to do business, you would most likely need a roof, that is, a gang that you would pay to protect you from other gangs. They’d often rip you off in collaboration with other bands. This time (’91-’96) was gruesomely bloody. People who survived and succeeded often left dozens of corpses behind.

People who survived that time and didn’t turn to drink or ruin themselves in other ways are resistant to many miseries of life. Things like personal bankruptcy and losing one’s home or job sound like a small adventure to people who lived through the 90s in the post-Soviet states.

“I done been through the pain and the sorrow
The struggle is nothing but love
I’m a soldier, a rider, a ghetto survivor
And all the above.” – All the Above, Song by Maino

That is definitely about us.

Together with my friends, we watched those African-American boxers in awe. For simple reasons, we were very happy for those who came from nothing and could make it. Many young folks in Ukraine admired those boxers; we could quickly identify with them. When current Ukrainian super champ – Vasiliy Lomachenko was a kid, he thought those boxers were Ukrainian. We didn’t know any better. Lomachenko’s inspirations were Roy Jr. Jones and Mohammed Ali. Most of us, unfortunately, didn’t even have a chance to get a visa anywhere, and Ukraine was in extreme poverty.

So when I finally started to travel and meet different people and nations. I was so happy to listen to live Jazz music in New York and Practice Thai Chi in Hong Kong. Everybody feels pain, stress, and happiness. Everybody universally understands a smile and when you kind and friendly to other people. I am so happy that now in Canada I am among people who respect equal rights and equal opportunities for everybody. People who are brave and mature enough to admit that something was wrong. They strive to fix and improve so nobody is left behind, offended, or forgotten. If you’ve been through a lot of suffering, there is no other way around it. You want everybody to be happy.

I’m grateful to my parents, who lived through those harsh years and brought up my brother and me. Somehow through all that chaos and devastation, they always have faith in good education. Sometimes when I wanted to go to a disco or some club or hang out with some folks, my mom always told me: “You are going to do your homework. You are going to this and that class.”

– “But mom, everybody is partying and drinking.”
– “You are not everybody. Keep writing”

Thank you, mom.

The only positive outcome of this collapse for me is that I’m hardly afraid of anything and have a lot of will to live and succeed versus some Western kids who grew up with their big screen TVs, trips to Disneyland, and other luxuries. At least, I thought so. I felt that my willpower was unlimited. I can work 12-14 hours without weekends forever. I am a superman. At least, I thought so.

War in Ukraine – The New History

The war in Ukraine started. I was lucky to move my family from the war zone relatively quickly. There were some hardships, maneuvering between destroyed cities. My family slept in the car for four days. I was afraid my kids would start to stutter or even worse. I am not going to describe the horror movie. You can watch all the devastation and suffering. We lost a lot, almost everything still. It’s just money, hard-earned money, still, just money, compared to lives. I volunteered for nearly three months helping and shipping everything I could to help my friends and those I know in Ukraine.

Our journey was very long. We traveled through 6 countries. We’ve got accepted here In Canada by our host. Sincerelly, I didn’t realize then that I had something similar to Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Because of that help, I could make it and quickly returned to work. I am not sure if I would have been able to come back so soon without that generosity. Many people helped, and I still need to send them letters, at least to say thank you! I promise I’ll do it right now, starting with this letter.

Right now, I am going through a job search process. I am very grateful for the interviews and unique insights from many Canadian people. Sometimes it is very frustrating when you don’t get any detailed feedback. I am the luckiest person on the planet. I have my family alive and celebrating every day.

It is incredible to be in Canada. Our values are in complete harmony with the Canadian people. Thank you for that fantastic warm feelings. I was fortunate, behind my back, a lot of world-class teachers. My educational process always continues. I met new teachers and coaches here in Canada. I am lucky to get all those generous gifts of love, faith, and support.

I am aware that I am an Immigrant, and I know that nobody is supposed to treat me the same. I am not from a wealthy family with many connections. I am not in the country club and don’t play golf. I am not going to cry about all this. I am still going to be a great success. I owe to all my great teachers, my family, myself, and those unique people helping me right now.

Special thanks to those who support new Ukrainians. We are forever in debt.

Special thanks to those who provided advice or detailed feedback.

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