I landed in Warsaw where I was met my uncle, or cousin – I’m actually not sure how we are related, but it’s clear by the way he drives that we are family. The road was long and we sat at the border for over two hours – this made me rethink the decisions of my travel plans. But as I waited and I had time to reflect. I realized that it was important to see Poland in order to further contextualize the situation in Ukraine.
We drove through the Polish countryside and I what I saw was a thriving country. Like Ukraine, Poland’s history is very tragic and its people have suffered deeply. But the nation has endured and persevered and they are moving forward with great strides. Ukraine can learn lessons from Poland.
Everywhere you looked new homes were being built. But what struck me was that these homes were normal sized homes, a sign of a thriving middle class; a stark contrast to what I remember seeing in Kiev a few years ago, which was tremendous opulence of the oligarchs who robbed the country of every last cent.
At the border we showed our documents to both Polish and Ukraine border patrol. They both had the same stern tone until they saw my American passport. They were visibly taken back by what I can assume is a rare sight for them to see. Then they began to ask questions about my travel plans, but not in the usual tone of border patrol, but instead like starry eyed teenagers looking at a celebrity – an American. So I gave them my autograph, (on the border documents) and we were on our way.
Once we crossed the border and drove through Ukrainian I saw a the difference that was immense. The houses were old and dilapidated and what was once a brightly painted white, is now gray and dirty. Rooftops where patched a dozen times and not one street lamp illuminated the road. The roads were the most memorable – littered with potholes – and I don’t mean a pothole here and there, but the entire road was a blanket of pot holes so large that they could swallow a child.
Ukraine is a country that has been robbed by bandits. And it is sinful to think that there are people on this earth that are so greedy that they would leave a country completely stripped, tattered and naked. It is unfathomable to think that a country’s own president and leadership could do such a thing. But Ukraine has resolve and it has endured throughout its history and it will prevail once again. I hope to God that it will.