Before the full-scale invasion, Olha, her son, and her daughter lived in the village of Kyselivka, Kherson region. On the day before the invasion, Olha and her daughter were visiting the city of Mykolaiv. When the invasion broke off, all the transport connections were cancelled and they could not return home.
Meanwhile, Olha’s son, Andrii, was staying in Kyselivka with his grandma. The boy had online classes and couldn’t venture out. Within the first days of the invasion, russians occupied Kyselivka. The family was divided by a frontline. Long months passed by, yet Olha still could not see her son. In early September, Andrii moved to then-occupied Kherson to live with his father; the father made a decision to send Andrii to a russian school.
The studies didn’t go too well. First, the classes were paused due to quarantine; second - due to the russians fears of the Ukrainian counteroffensive on Kherson. Worried about in-city combat, Andrii and his father moved to the town of Lazurne, Kherson region.
In September, Andriy's father required emergency surgery. Unable to reach Ukraine-controlled cities, he and his son were forced to go to the occupied city of Simferopol in Crimea. When the father recovered from the surgery, they returned to Lazurne.
And it was in Lazurne that the boy received the exciting news that Ukrainian forces had freed the Kherson region! However, he could not return home to the territory controlled by Ukraine.
For 4 long months after the de-occupation of Kherson, Andriy could not return home. He celebrated his birthday over a video call with his mom and two plates of instant noodles next to him. On the other side of the screen, his mother, Olha had a festive table. Yet she recalls being unable to touch the food that night because of the heartwrenching pain of separation.
Olha was looking for a way to bring her son back to Ukraine. She joined every possible online group offering such a service, but every single time such a “service” turned out to be a scam. Moreover, taking her minor son by proxy through russian checkpoints was also very risky.
Until Olha finally learned about Save Ukraine. Our team was already preparing the third rescue mission for the deported children at that time, which Olha joined. After being questioned by the russian border patrol officers and having to change the crossing location 3 times, we brought Andrii home with 15 other young Ukrainians.
Today, Olha and her children live in Mykolaiv, and she has found a job. Andrii is gradually recovering, has started playing sports, and gained weight. Now he is studying in the 8th grade on an external basis to catch up and join his peers at school in the fall.