When I was 3 years old I lived on a friendly street with private houses along the road. One day we heard loud sounds of heavy technic moving in the street. The Entire neighborhood went outside to see what was going on. There was huge traffic of tanks and military trucks full of soldiers waving at people in the street.
My mother, a person with a beautiful heart who loves everybody, was crying while waving back at the soldiers. As a child, I was very confused but seeing my mom made me realize whatever was happening was not good because it made my mom cry. I got terrified. Even though people were explaining that the fight was far from my home and I was safe, I still could not remove the fear.
Those moments gathered all together deep down in my mind and became my biggest nightmare. Every time I heard sounds from the street that were familiar to what I heard that day I used to run quickly and hide under the table. There used to be a lot of war information on the news, so I started hating TV, and every time I heard the sound of the news program I used to cry until they turned the TV off.
Soon after the military actions stopped and I started forgetting about those scary days. But a few years later, when I was already 10 years old, big girls, the war came back.
I can clearly recall the day in August when I was asked to pack my clothes. My country was in war again and we had to stay in the village for a while. That day I got a new black and white striped hoodie with huge pockets and I decided to take it with me even though it was a hot summer day outside.
I remember the night in the darkroom without lights and any human sound in the streets but helicopters flying in the sky awaking fear of bombs falling down. I was a 10 years old girl with a huge imagination and influence from comics. I was already familiar with the concept of the war and was thinking that a superhero would show up and everything would happen like in my comic books so I kept asking questions where was superman.
My grandfather told me that that day the superman was busy so he called and asked if someone else could take care of the situation instead of him.
As a child, I used to spend time practicing box and self-defense with my grandpa and I felt so proud and responsible at the same time and started playing along with my role of substitute for the supermen with my brother and cousins. I put the hoodie on my head but my arms were out of the sleeves so I could easily pretend to like it was my superpower cape. We were running, jumping, and making people laugh at our games. so I felt the strongest and the safest I can remember.
That night everything went well and after 4 days military actions stopped. Life went back to normality, but there were things that had changed forever.
For example, I won’t hide that 12 years later my heartbeat still gets unreasonably fast when I hear the sound of an airplane late at night and I am still scared of dark, quiet nights. But now, 12 years later I realize that the most important thing I took from that night was the lesson my grandfather gave me.
During hard times and conflict situations, there are no creatures with supernatural abilities coming for saving us. The ones that become heroes are normal people like you and me. And to become a hero and make a change all you need is the power of belief in your dreams and vision of the life you want to create.
Peace is built upon the will of ordinary individuals and, if you ask me, there is no stronger power than faith that you are the one who can make the change.
Written by Irina Berdzenishvili from Georgia, currently living in Romania
This article is part of the World by Word campaign. This project originated at YMCA Netherlands and is a multinational cooperation of YMCA Europe Roots for Peace project, and the Dutch former Soviet Cemetery Leusden. World by Word is a prelude to an Erasmus+ funded Youth Exchange “Then, now and later: towards a composite memory”, taking place in the Netherlands in 2022.