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Shiraz303 & biedronkissa
Shiraz303 & biedronkissa | 🇮🇱 Israel & 🇵🇱 Poland

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It all started 2.5 years ago, on an autumn night, and grew into an amazing friendship. Here is our story.

I was devastated by an anti-Semitic joke that my boyfriend (at the time) had said. I felt ashamed of what happened, so I decided to write to Israel, even though I was scared that I will get a backlash because of the situation between our countries. I founded Shiraz’s profile, and she seemed nice and open-minded, so I felt like, despite all the complicated history between our nations, we could get along. I was so scared that I wrote about 20 times, “Please don’t hate me”.

I got Ola’s letter in the morning, right before school. It made me sad to see how worried she was. I was definitely not going to hate her just because of her heritage, so during the whole school day I was thinking about her letter, worried that she might think that I’m not replying yet because of that. In addition to that, I just liked her letter and really wanted to get to know her.

When I saw that Shiraz replied to me, I was surprised, and I couldn’t wait to read her letter. When I finally got it, I was really happy. I felt like we have a special connection, and I was just happy that she accepted me despite my heritage. I was struggling with it at the time. I felt like Poles are just hated worldwide, especially when it comes to Israel, so I was genuinely happy.

We started exchanging letters frequently, and got to know each other more. It was really fun for the both of us, but then, at some point, I stopped getting letters back. Some months later, I worked on a big art project, and wanted to include in it drawings of people from many different countries. I decided to write to Ola again, and see if she wants to join. To my surprise, I got a reply, and I was so so happy. Turned out that we both went through similar heartbreak stories at the time, and talking about it brought us closer to each other.

The fact that me and Shiraz had the same kind of stories helped me go through it smoother.

Some letters later, I told her my biggest secret – that my heartbreak was actually about a girl. No one knew about it, and I was terrified of what she will say, but when I got her reply, it was totally supportive. We kept talking about it, and she helped me feel better about myself, because I was struggling a bit with my sexuality at the time.

In my next letter, I asked her if she wants to move to WhatsApp, though I didn’t get a reply. I was scared that I scared her off, because she didn’t log into SLOWLY in a long time. After waiting for 2 months, I deleted my account, which I started to regret pretty fast. I got a new Slowly account, but I couldn’t find Shiraz’s profile anymore.

When I finally got back to SLOWLY, I saw that Ola’s account was deactivated. I was devastated, because I missed her a lot, and really wanted to write to her again. Then, suddenly, I remembered that I actually had her email address, because we had used it for the art project. I immediately sent her an email, and hoped that she would forgive me for my absence. I was so happy to get a quick excited reply from her. We exchanged numbers, and started to talk through WhatsApp in March 2020.

I was surprised by the email from Shiraz, and I didn’t expect it at all. As we moved to WhatsApp, we got even closer, and since then we talk daily. In addition to that, we celebrate together both Jewish and Christian holidays, in order to get to know each other’s religions better, including the traditions themselves. I’m truly happy that we got to know each other through that app, and that both of us can find support in each other.

Ola became the friend I had always dreamed of having. We talk for hours every day, and I feel like I can truly be myself around her. We switched to WhatsApp just when the pandemic started. The lockdowns made my mental health go downhill, and I felt worse than ever. Ola was there for me, to listen, support and help me more than anyone had ever done. On my worst days, knowing that we will talk tomorrow is what makes me keep going.

After all these years, we are finally going to meet in Poland, and hopefully when the pandemic ends, I’m going to visit Shiraz in Israel.
And fun fact: Lately we discovered that our ancestors lived in the same city in Ukraine, called Kolomyia!

It’s crazy how our little choices can change our life so much. Who would have thought that a decision to install an app would lead to meeting my best friend? We may not use SLOWLY to talk with each other anymore (although we both still send letters to others), but we would have never met without it. I’m so so thankful for this amazing app for everything.

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