This I Believe

Ixchel - 46615, Indiana
Entered on December 6, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: courage, war

I believe in courage and perseverance toward adversity. I used to live without being aware of how difficult it is to overcome certain difficulties which can be encountered in life and which need courage and perseverance. Courage meant nothing to me or more precisely courage meant nothing real to me, it was only related to the heroic actions of the characters in the cartoons or epic movies such as King Arthur or Gladiator; I thought it was something I could not experienced, until December 2002. At that time, my native country, the Ivory Coast, one of the most peaceful countries of West Africa, experienced a civil war. Courage was a specific trait of my culture. In my country, people are raised with the belief to never abandon anything no matter what the difficulties that lies in front of them, because our country is poor and the population needed courage, perseverance and faith to change life conditions. The colonial past with the French showed the courage through national heroes like Felix Houphouet Boigny who fought the colonial power with his political movement (the RDA) for our right to be independent and to become the masters of our destiny. Houphouet Boigny has stopped the exploitation of our natural resources and our manpower by the French and made our country become independent in 1960.

Before the war, courage was not an important value for me; it only meant courage to perform at school and at my job. I was not aware of how courage could be important in certain situations. I used to live in Vavoua, one of the cities where the civil war started because it was a wealthy area with many natural resources. When the war began, the only thing I wanted was to escape from the battlefront and survive. The town was not safe because of the fights between the rebels and the patriotic army. My family and I went to an exodus of 250 miles to reach the secured areas. I could not take the rare means of transportation that was available during the time in order to escape; so my cousins and I walked with many others civilians on roads and sometimes in forest to avoid the rebels, the mercenaries and the prisoner’s threats that have been released in these times of trouble. We walked and hid ourselves for almost a week before we reached the secured areas. It was difficult because of the tiredness, the lack of food, the lack of water and the weather conditions principally the temperature which was almost 31 degrees Celsius and sometimes the devastating tropical rains. I lost everything, and so did my parents, who lost their jobs, their house and everything they had worked for. In the secured cities we sought a new beginning and we needed courage at all stages during this process; to escape from the combat areas, to survive during the exodus, and finally to start a new life.

My personal experience of war allowed me to understand the importance of the value of courage which is vital for human kind all over the world. Now I can define courage as the fact of overcome my fears and the difficult situations I face, situations which seems to apparently have no solutions .I believe in courage, in perseverance to face the challenges of life and to succeed in what I have to achieve and what I want to achieve no matter the burden that i will have to carry and the difficulties I will have to face. For me now, courage means the most important value in which I trust; I would be nothing without this value.