Wartime Teenager

Feb 22, 2023 | Ukraine | 4 comments

Wartime Teenager

Adam Malyshev (16) – Ukraine

For 12 months, a full-scale war has been going on in my country. At its core, the conflict began long before – the events of February 24, 1991 can be considered as the starting point. The collapse of such a huge state as the Soviet Union led to the creation of many independent republics. Some of the largest created states were the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

From the very beginning, the Ukrainian people longed for separation from their past, not wanting to remember it. We wanted to be like Poland or the Czech Republic, but the Russian government and the Russians longed for something else. These events are an eternal conflict, which has now acquired a huge scale.

When the armed conflict in the Donbas was just beginning (2014), I lived 60 kilometres from Donetsk in the mining town of Yenakiyevo, with a population of about 150 thousand people. We had everything in abundance, and we did not think that gaining independence from Ukraine could improve anything. However, at that time, according to some reports, Russian services brought in people who were trying to sow the seed of the Russian world and to provoke a conflict. In the same year, our family was forced to leave this city and look for a new home. So, we went to the west of Ukraine, to Mukachevo , a small town in the Transcarpathian region, which became my home for 2 years.

During these two years, I felt a significant difference between the busy and dirty Donetsk region, and the bright, flourishing Transcarpathia. Life literally started from scratch. I began to diligently learn the Ukrainian language, because in the east everything was in Russian. Soon I adapted, and my family and I were able to move to the regional center, the city of Uzhgorod.

For me, such a change of circumstances was not surprising, during that time I got used to frequent moves from city to city. In Uzhgorod, I managed to learn a lot of new things and I found many friends with whom we soon learned to play various musical instruments. I really liked to be creative and live in peaceful Ukraine. However, one February morning, ordinary life changed dramatically.

On the morning of the 24th February 2023, I had to go to school as on any normal day; but, it was not the alarm clock at 07.00 that woke me up that morning, but the voice of my mother, who was talking on the phone with our friends from Kyiv. I tried to understand what all this was about and then they told me: “Adam, war!” I was 15 years old then and I was in the 10th grade, and I had a plan for my life. I wanted to apply to Lviv or Kyiv, and to learn my skills and work in a job that I loved. But now – in February 2023 – I am 16, a school graduate, and I have no idea what to do next! Many of my friends have moved abroad, and one even joined the army! Now as I am writing this, I hope that they will not turn off the light for me, as conscription is now happening all over the country.

Since the beginning of the war, I have been volunteering. Along with a friend of mine – a believing Christian from Kropivnitsky who also lived in our house – we distribute humanitarian aid to refugees from Mariupol, Kharkov, Kherson, etc. Much has changed in our ordinary life as Ukrainians move away from activities and experiences that remind them of being citizens of the Russian Federation – we see these changes in attitudes toward both creative and cultural memories: literature, music, monuments, names of streets, cities and even metro stations! Also, our whole country has begun a massive transition to the Ukrainian language, and in general, our national spirit and patriotism has risen like never before!

This conflict is no longer fast or local. Every day events are gaining more and more momentum. Each piece of land is costing dozens of lives, and hundreds of destinies and lives are being destroyed. Who, if not the younger generation, will restore and rebuild everything that has been destroyed?

No matter how difficult it is, we need to believe for the best outcome for our country.


  1. Maureen

    Amazing article. My prayers are with you.

    • Kevin Reily

      Thanks Maureen for the encouragement…I’ll pass it on to Adam 😉

  2. Lula

    Incredible article! Adam, with your words, you have given everyone an insight into life in Ukraine from a whole different perspective. Even though you have had a lot of change and difficulties, your article holds much hope. Thank you 🙂

    • Kevin Reilly

      Thanks for the encouragement Lula – I’ll be sure it gets to Adam 🙂


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