The Bitter-Sweet About War

Eunice Andoh

© Copyright 2018 by Eunice Andoh

Photo of a battle tank.

 Experience they say is a great teacher but my experience didn’t just teach me lessons but turned my life round and affirmed my trust and faith in God.

My early unexpected exposure to war in a foreign land, threatening my education and my life as well and changing my life forever has been my motivation in sharing this with everyone. Through the trials and confusion I have had a deeper revelation of the God we serve, His wondrous works and dynamic nature of His works.

Graduating from high school with an admission to enter medical school in a foreign land was like a dream come true for me. I couldn’t hide my joy and excitement as every dream of mine was filled with scenes of myself fulfilling my dream overseas. I was forever grateful to God for showing me such honor. One of my reasons for being so excited was the fact that most of my mates with better grades were refused entry into medical school in my home country and here was I, not just entering medical school but travelling oversees to accomplish that.

Things were not too smooth for me in the initial state as my visa kept delaying and the months to reopening kept drawing near. I was frustrated. I did pray a lot and fasted.

Eventually it happened, I found myself in the plane for the first time, leaving everyone and everything I was familiar with behind. It then dawned on me I was just 19 years with no experience going to start new life without any guidance. I was scared.

Life in the university in my first year was not as I expected it to be. I was in Ukraine, with residents who couldn’t understand English and everything around me was in a strange language. I struggled to get the right products to buy and communication was terrible. My funniest earliest experience was going to the super market to get milk only to be told after a week that it was milk for cats and dogs. I tried inducing vomiting but it was too late, I had consumed cat milk for a week now. I found myself in many awkward moments such as babies crying just because I was black and mothers pulling their children away to prevent them for crying just by encountering me. “Gosh! I was light skinned, not dark in completion, can’t they even acknowledge that fact” I kept on asking myself these questions. With time I became used to the system, started learning the language, and got quite comfortable with my new environment.

I was in the university hostel so finding my way around school was not too much of a problem as there were few foreign students around whom I later got to know and make acquaintances with.

My mates were super cool and I met few Africans from my homeland. My observation in my school was that the teachers were very learned but some struggled with expressing themselves in the English Language. It was very obvious they knew their stuff but didn’t know how to present them to the students. I also realized most of the young teachers were professors and associate professors and that alone was an inspiration for me. This was because, where I was coming from, the professors we knew were grey-haired men and women with wrinkles. It was not common to find a professor in the skin of a young person. These young Ukrainian Professors won my respect.

I went through first year quite well, though challenging I managed to pull through. We were about rounding off our first year in Medical school when we started hearing rumors about Russian government and the Ukrainian government fighting over my city which happened to be one of the best cities in Ukraine. I never showed any concern as it didn’t mean anything to me; I came to study and go back, their quarrels were not my concern.

School went on smoothly, we started our exams and were trying to finish the semester when we heard about rebels, bombs, shooting etc. They were like stories in my ears as I never imagined experiencing any of the things I saw in movies or read about.

These rumors we were hearing started turning real when we heard some cities around us had been invaded by rebels and are being bombed all over. “Who are the Rebels? Why are they bombing places and people? What is really going on?” I kept asking myself these questions as news of the rebels destroying some cities started hitting international news and our parents begun to worry about our safety.

With the threats drawing nearer and nearer, the school authorities decided to close school early so many could go back home or find refuge in better places. This news was a bombshell to me as I felt my world was coming to an end. Chances of us not returning was high and at the point it was obvious to think your medical career was just about to be thrown into the dish.

Eventually the so-called Rebels landed in my city. Wow, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought I was being featured in a war movie as I saw armored Cars entering my city in the local news.

My school closed down prematurely and asked all foreigners to go back to their countries for safety. “Did I hear right? Me! Go back? Go back to where?” I literally knew going back was the dead option to my dream of becoming a medical doctor. I wept the whole night. I cried to God.

At a point me in my life I felt my dreams and hopes coming to an end. I feared being a victim of war and having my dreams shattered and terminated. As I watched friends and loved ones finding means to travel back home with no assurance or hope of returning to continue with education I wept and cried, “Father Is this all?” so many questions flooded my little mind, “ Did God actually bring me here to end everything like that?, what is next, lady? Where do I turn from here? Will I even survive these missiles and bombs flying in the air,?”

My parents became so worried that I had to give in and return home, knowing very well I will never be allowed to return or travel again. Few days to my return, we got the shocking news of our lives that the only airport and our safest means of returning had been bombed and closed down. The greatest fear on earth gripped me and I went blank. Lost in my thoughts and wonder. We were told we could travel with bus for about ten to twelve hours to the capital city in order to fly back home but it was very risky as many buses were being stopped by these rebels and attacked.

My anguish and worry was crowned when rebels seized all hostels with the exception of just the one I was in and encamped around me. I was totally lost in wonder and terror.  

Many scared students like me had to run to lodge in the only hostel left and prayed to our God to spare our lives. Dying in a foreign land in a devastating manner was the dreadful thing to think at that moment. All the banks closed down as well as all the shops around. Constant thundering sounds from the bombs that were being released shook our hostel. We could neither shop for food, buy clothes nor withdraw money, and it was too risky to stay outside. We were the victim of war and we had to hide for safety.

God being on our side, we got to know some trains could take us out of the war zone to the other part of the country which was war free but it was going to take a day or two to get there and we could only carry one small bag with us.

With that being the best and safest options, I looked at all the things I had spent so much to keep me comfortable in school and took just few clothes along with my documents, not knowing where we were going and how it was going to turn out. Our survival was not guaranteed but we were to hope. The journey was forever but we got there.

My life in my new city was something I never expected it to be, and I had no option but to owe that to the war. My experiences made me tougher and a risk- taker. We got into an equally good medical school with friendly residents. Their level of education was impressive and most had their way around the English language making it easier to communicate with them and even create a relationship. I got very active in church and had the opportunity to discover the potentials and talents within me. It gave me a broader scope to try new things and I found myself transitioning from a shy person to an actress, singer, poets and dancer. I even learnt how to play an instrument.

Today I’m motivated to share my story because God turned what was supposed to be deadly to a success story. I testify because it was through the crises that God changed my life, made me discover the numerous talents I have, made me instrumental in his vine yard , gave me another chance to continue my schooling and above all blessed me beyond measure and still counting my blessings. The war was bitter but gave me a sweet outcome.

I am a fifth year medical student in Ivano-Frankisvk National Medical University.  I'm a lady of 24 years of age with keen interest in writing , reading and poetry.

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