A real story from an afternoon at the Beach

Youth Peace Ambassadors
3 min readMar 5, 2024

“But guys, so whose fault is it? Ukrainian or Russian?”

“Russian, because they have invaded the Donbass.”

“ What’s Donbass?”

“ Are you sure? Mum says that even Ukrainians have done something bad.”

Ukrainian, Russia, Donbass, invasion…these words suddenly capture my attention from the book I am reading while lying on the beach, enjoying the last days of summer. But most of all, what really makes me prick up my ears is the fact that the voices that pronounce those words seem to be too acute and too young.

So, I close my book and I look up: 6 kids between the age of 5 and 8 years old, with their hands in the sand, are playing together while keeping on discussing about Russia and Ukraine. They have their hair still wet from one of their endless swim, they have their knees all scraped, and they have the sands even inside their ears. But they are in the middle of a conversation that I consider too serious for their age. And too sad.

“Do you know that if the USA decide to join the war, even we, the Italians, have to join it because of a pact? My grandma told me this!” “ It will become a nuclear war, I know it!”

“ Yes, you’re right, I heard it at the television during dinner”

“ Guys, I know…we are all going to die soon”

“But can someone call the President of Italy..?”

“Mattarella, it is the name!”

“ Yes, or better Draghi, the Prime Minister…my dad talks about him very often!!”

“ Yes, very good idea. So they can call the president of Russia…” “Putin!”

“Yes, they can call Putin and ask him to stop the war.”

I am shocked. I am shocked by the amount of information that they know, received from the television, their parents and relatives, and that they have collected as sponges.

While looking at them, I start remembering when I was a kid of their age and I am pretty sure that the conversations with my friends were all about cartoons, video games, Santa Claus and maybe something about football matches.

The name of the President or the prime minister, as well as the news about the political and foreigners affairs, weren’t between our knowledges at that time.

If my first reaction has been shock, suddenly, I start feeling really sorry. I feel sorry because we are living in a world where the history has not taught anything for the present and the future since we are keeping repeating the same mistakes and we are keeping living anchored at the past. I feel sorry because we are living in a world where war and violence are becoming quotidianity.

I feel sorry because a kid thinks that we are all going to die soon for something he doesn’t really understand. I feel sorry because on the other hand, lots of children, or well, too many children perfectly understand the term “war” because they are personally living in it. I feel sorry because we are living in a world where the right to leisure and play for kids is not guaranteed.

How can we explain them that the actual world is violent, is made of war, imposition and is driven by economical power? How can we explain them that the majority of the world lives in suffering, limitation, poverty and hunger? And how can we explain that sadly “we cannot just call the President of another country and task if he can stop the war”?

And on the other hand, how can we explain why they have to live under bombing, why their families is broken or they have just one Parent beasse the toher is a soldier? And how can we explain them the reason why they have to live in tents or refugee camps?

Sadly we just can not explain them, and this may be also because we are not able to explain it to ourselves.

A story by Arianna Amodio, a member of the Youth Peace Ambassadors Network

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Youth Peace Ambassadors

The YPA Network is an informal network of 114 youth leaders and peacebuilders, from diverse backgrounds working for peace.