To Defenders of Freedom

Ukrainian soldier of African origin is fighting in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

25-year-old Gomesh Richard Ferreira serves as a soldier of the 128th Separate Mountain Assault Transcarpathian Brigade of the AFU. His mother is an ethnic Russian, and his father is from Angola. Richard, however, considers himself Ukrainian – and sees his future in Ukraine.

His story was told by Ukrainska Pravda.

Richard’s parents met at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. A couple broke up shortly after his birth: a father returned to Angola, and the boy spent his childhood in Sokyriany, the Chernivtsi region, with his mother and grandmother. However, he stayed in touch with his father.

Because of the color of his skin, Richard was sometimes treated as a foreigner in kindergarten and later at school. But over time, this perception has changed, as people got to travel abroad more.

Since his teenage years, Gomesh Richard Ferreira has been seriously engaged in sports – aikido, judo, football, and boxing. At 16, he won the Ukrainian Cup in boxing and received the title of Master of Sports. The young man could stand up for himself. But he never used his fists for self-affirmation.

Richard speaks Ukrainian and Russian, is fluent in English, and can communicate in Spanish and Portuguese.

According to Richard, he grew up in a Russian-speaking surrounding and watched mostly Russian TV channels. However, everything changed for him in 2014, when Russia invaded Crimea, the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

“Many of my friends have also taken a radical pro-Ukrainian position since then. And after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, many of them also started to speak Ukrainian.”

In the summer of 2020, Richard joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine and signed a three-year contract. He chose the 128th Separate Mountain Assault Transcarpathian Brigade due to his love for the mountains. Before Russia’s full-scale invasion, he served a full rotation in the Donetsk region and received combatant status. Currently, soldier Gomesh serves in the communications unit and has already been to the frontline.

Despite his combat experience, the man does not plan to build a military career and wants to return to civilian life when the war is over.

“Serving in AFU is a unique experience you cannot get in sports or the office. Maybe I won’t need it in the future, but psychologically I definitely gained a lot here. And the feeling that I personally join the fight against the enemy is priceless,” says Richard.

Despite the war, Richard has already made a final decision to stay and live permanently in Ukraine.

“A year and a half ago, I planned to go abroad after my service. I could have got foreign citizenship a long time ago. But I changed my mind. This is my country, and I am a Ukrainian,” he says confidently.

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