“The way home”: A return of one and a half years of war and several European countries
The width of the Dnieper and the full-scale war that has been going on for more than a year and a half was the distance between the children and parents of one Kherson family. At last, 6-year-old Yasha, 8-year-old Daryna and their older brother Sasha, who is ten, are back with their mom and dad. Reunify the family assistance to the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Child Rights Network (UMPD).
In February 2022, the children visited their grandparents in a village on the left bank of the Kherson region. When the regional center and Kherson region were occupied, parents decided that children would be safer in the countryside. For a while they could even see each other. But when the Russian occupiers blew up the Antoniv bridge during their escape from the right bank of the Dnieper in November, the adults lost the opportunity to visit the children.
The grandchildren helped their grandparents in the household and studied at a local school controlled by the occupation authorities. It was impossible not to go to classes, because it threatened the children’s safety.
When the parents turned to the UMPD for help, it was planned that the grandmother would take Yasha, Darynka and Sashka out of the occupied part of the Kherson region. But the woman did not dare to take on such a responsibility, and the grandfather’s health is not good enough to leave him alone.
Then the mother said: “I will go,” although she was now holding a baby in her arms – the fourth child born during the war. I left her with her father, collected all the necessary documents with the help of experts from the project “The Way Home” and set off…
In peacetime, in order to reach the children, the mother would have had to cross a bridge or swim across the Dnieper. Instead, during the war, she had to cross several European countries to see her two sons and daughter.
I stayed with my parents for a week, listened to how they live in the occupation and why they decided not to leave their home, and took the children home – to the territory of free Ukraine.
The Way Home project is aimed at finding and returning children displaced to Russia or the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, as well as reuniting families whose children are without parents in the occupation. The project is implemented by the Ukrainian Child Rights Network in partnership with the international humanitarian organization Save the Children in Ukraine.
Our other partners are: Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine, EDUKIDS Charitable Foundation, Media Initiative for Human Rights.
You can join the “WAY HOME” project as well. Click on the SUPPORT US button and make a contribution to the return of children, as it requires considerable resources.
The materials developed within the project do not necessarily reflect the official position of Save the Children.