This article appeared in the June 22, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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A lesson in courage from a wounded Ukrainian girl

Scott Peterson/Getty Images/The Christian Science Monitor
Ukrainian Anastasia Pryhoda, age 15, recovers from surgery on her legs to remove bullets fired by Russian soldiers while she was driving several wounded adults from Popasna. Seen here at the City Clinical Hospital for Children in Lviv, Ukraine, on June 17, 2022.

Nelson Mandela once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” 

As a rock climber and war correspondent, the Monitor’s Scott Peterson knows something about conquering fear. “When things get difficult,” Scott says by phone from Kyiv, Ukraine, “it’s important to focus on the job at hand. That doesn’t leave room for fear or doubt.”

Earlier this week, Scott met with three brave girls who were wounded in the Ukraine war (see the story below). One of them, 15-year-old Anastasia, drove dozens of carloads of wounded or older Ukrainians to safety. But her rescue missions ended abruptly in May after Russian soldiers opened fire on her car, hitting Anastasia four times.

“She was clearly aware of the dangers and risks and yet able to compartmentalize it and focus on the task at hand,” says Scott, noting that she continued driving for several kilometers after being wounded. 

As a journalist, Scott says he has to demonstrate courage in bursts. “But most of these girls aren’t leaving the war zone. They’re still living here. I just need to sustain my composure until I leave,” he says.

And Anastasia? She intends to go to the Ukrainian military academy. “Given the way she holds herself, I could see her in 10 years leading a company of Ukrainian soldiers. She is a self-starter, assertive, and sharp,” says Scott.

When he talks about Anastasia, it reminds me of the Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street, hands on hips, staring down a charging bull. 

In Anastasia’s case, it’s a charging Russian bear.

This article appeared in the June 22, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 06/22 edition
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