There have been some silver linings to this nightmare war. The most important one for me is the re-connection with family. I have had an unusual journey in my adult life with my brother Alon, for example, and this leaving Kyiv abruptly and coming to SA has done a lot of good in terms of my relationship with my brother. The love and support from him and his family has been so beautiful and we are very blessed. I may not have understood my brother for a long time, and there is lots I still don’t get, and may never understand, but I have been reminded of his many good qualities and will be forever grateful that in this time of trouble that old cliche rings true. Family is the most important thing.

I have had many kind friends also reach out to us and there have been many offers of support. But nothing compares to the love of family. I am not sure why it has to take trauma to open one’s eyes, and heart, but this is often the case in life. When this war is over this will be a positive, lasting aspect of this mad year.

The war has caused all kinds of problems and challenges for everyone in Ukraine. Work projects cancelled or postponed, unplanned costs, money going to help others in need, and so on. Luckily my family and I are still ok, but we have had a few folk reach out to us and offer us financial help. I am very grateful to these kind friends. The thing my brother and his family gave us, which is way beyond money, is laughter, warmth, support, their loving home, care, time, patience, and much more. When we arrived in JHB we were in such a state of shock that to go to Alon’s home and everyone there just look after us was a gift from God. It is hard to describe what we are going through, and I hope no one ever has to deal with something like this, but the trauma is non-stop and this war is still going on and not letting up. All we want to to is return to Kyiv soon and help rebuild. There is going to be a lot of pain and a lot to do.

Alon, if you ever read this, thank you for everything. And thank you for this gift. I have made many mistakes in life, and I am trying harder and harder to be a better person. I love you with all my heart.