Before she fled her home city of Kyiv, Ukraine, Aleksandra Makoviy scribbled important contact information on her 2-year-old daughter Vira’s back. She wanted to ensure that, if anything were to happen to her, Vira would be safe.
“I thought that if my husband and I died, Vira could find who she is,” Makoviy told The New York Times in an interview.
The 33-year-old painter’s recent Instagram post, which featured a photo of the writing on Vira’s back, went viral after it was shared by government officials and journalists. Some criticized Makoviy for posting such an image, while many others praised her vulnerability as many Ukrainian parents admitted to desperately doing the same. The possibility is there for children to be orphaned during escapes from Ukrainian cities amid the Russian invasion — a heartbreaking and unbelievable thought to consider.
By posting the image, Makoviy made it all too clear the continued devastation Ukraine is experiencing.
In a speech to the Spanish Parliament last week, President Volodymyr Zelensky referenced this particular subject, saying, “Just imagine this — mothers in Ukraine write on the backs of their young children the child's name, phone numbers of relatives with the usual pen... Why? Because if the occupiers kill their parents, there will be at least a small chance that someone will save these children.”
Makoviy decided to escape Ukraine’s capital as the invasion heightened. She could hear bombs explode in the distance as she played with Vira, a terrifying scenario. The family decided t pack their car and drive out of Kyiv, making their way to Moldova and then to the south of France, where they are currently seeking refuge.
Before they left, Makoviy wrote Vira’s information on her back — an arts and crafts project in Vira’s toddler eyes. Makoviy is thankful her young daughter won’t be able to recall most of what she experienced, especially leaving family members behind in Ukraine. The 2-year-old asked to see her grandmother — who later fled Kyiv — multiple times during their journey.
“We can’t go home now,” Makoviy would tell Vira, who clutched a teddy bear given to her by the matriarch, who is now traveling from Poland to reunite with her family.
“I just want to let everyone know Vira and I are safe,” Makoviy wrote on Instagram last week, alongside a photo of Vira playing with flowers. “We managed to cross the border, and now we’re in the South of France🇫🇷. We’ve been staying with volunteers who invited us here and offered accommodation ... I’d like to say thank you to French volunteers, and everyone who helped us and supported us as we were fleeing the war. My warmest thanks to the people of Poland🇵🇱. Your generosity and compassion is priceless. Your support is what keeps us going.”
The people and parents of Ukraine, who are facing unimaginable scenarios and losses, continue to be in all of our thoughts.
If you would like to donate to Ukraine, check out these charitable organizations.