Kind Kyiv

I am leaving Kyiv this late afternoon on a train to Poland. I should arrive back in SA on Thursday. It has been a busy and productive time here and I saw many friends and took a lot in. Yes, there are air raid sirens, and of course, the country is at war, so it is not entirely safe. But I did not feel any danger in Kyiv and life in the nation’s magical capital goes on. What I did experience was positivity. There is optimism, passion and unity. Ukraine will win this war. They know what they are fighting for. And they have a lotta soul.

When the war started we were here. And the world news was hinting that Kyiv would fall in 3 days. This did not happen. And I will tell you what else did not happen. Mad Max. There is no anarchy here. No looting, no riots, no bandits running around. Quite the opposite. As my friend Shadi said to me, “You have do admire this nation. They are kind and they are helping each other. And that is not about government. That is about society.” Yes, Ukraine struggles with bad stereotyping, and yes, Ukraine suffers from corruption. But things were getting better and they were on a good path. I believe this path is still there.

This war may go on for a while still, but it is only making Ukrainians more determined to leave their old ways behind and embrace a new world. A world where freedom is fundamental, and where you can write your own story. Ukrainian entrepreneurship is alive and well – they do things their way and they need to polish many things. But they are risk takers for sure and they are innovative and creative. To spend time here is to understand. If you have never visited Kyiv, for example, you will never know about the magic here.

This has been quite a week. Back in SA, on Thursday evening, was the SABC launch of “57”, the documentary we made about violent crime in SA. The film turned out excellent and the event was successful. And also this week, we started full time on the next adventure, the Ukraine film project. We started this journey in 2018 and then things got put on hold because of the pandemic. The ball is rolling again and this is now my focus until we are complete. I estimate it will take us one year.

Earlier this week I was taken to the outskirts of Kyiv by Anton and Max to see some of the devastation that took place way back when the war began. It has all been cleaned up so you don’t see rubble and burned out cars, etc. We did see some destroyed tanks on the side of the road, but if I had not known there was a war on the go, I would have thought this was all a result of a big fire. Also, there were people going on about their daily lives and things felt calm and busy.

Kyiv, like the rest of Ukraine, is a kind place. People care about each other and everyone is doing what they can to make sure Ukraine wins this war and moves forward in the world, as a contributing member. They make a lot of important things in Ukraine, like food. And then there is the tech scene, which is breaking ground all the time. I believe Ukraine is in for some very hard times. After the war there are going to be a lot of people with no homes to go to, and unemployment is going to be a big concern. But they will help each other and before you know it, they will be back on the path, and in a few years from now Ukraine will boom. There is much to be excited about. Yes, again, the war is still going on, and there is a lot of pain, and destruction. But the war will end, and good will triumph over evil, and Ukraine will find its place in the world.