When Ukrainian journalist Lidia Pankiv, 24 helped form a human chain of women to protect protesters in Kiev from police, the last thing she was expecting was to meet the love of her life. But that's just what happened.
Lidia had turned out to help protect a group protesting government corruption. She, along with several other women, planted themselves between the protesters and the riot officers, hoping that their lack of weapons or violent actions would be sufficent to deter the police force. The officers were close enough that when Lidia shouted her cell phone number to a friend, an officer nearby was able to hear and record it. What happened next is heartbreakingly pure and sweet. Officer Andrei (who has not released his last name for fear of being fired) texted Lidia to say, "Despite all the commotion I remembered your phone number when you gave it to your friend. I don't even know your name. I was standing in the night with a shield in front of you. When you stopped us from advancing, I realised that I want to marry you. Andrei".
Lidia's bravery in the face of all-out chaos and possible violence enchanted Andrei. Though they come from two very different sides of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, this pair was able to find love together. Lidia has had friends arrested because of their protests, and several have even died for their cause. She recalled that when she and Andrei met for the first time, she had intended to try to dissuade him from his side of the conflict. But instead, she heard him speak, and she fell in love. She said of their first date in Maidan Square, in Kiev, "I was really surprised that the message and don't know why I agreed to meet him, I thought perhaps it might be possible to convince him that the side he was on was wrong and I certainly didn't expect to find myself falling in love with him. But when I saw him when I started to speak to him - that is what happened."
As much sadness and upheaval as there has been in the Ukraine, one can take comfort in this beautiful story, and remember that love is stronger than anything we can throw at it.
Lidia at a protest:
Lidia and Andrei, who are now engaged: