Appeal from the Boy in the Photo

This post is an appeal to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. But it’s not mine — it is from the boy in this photo. I promised him to publish it.

His name is Denys. I met him at the bomb shelter on February 27, in the first days of the war. Denys and his mother came from Sartana. They hunkered down in our basement, trying to save their lives during the first air raids. Agitated, the boy told me about their experience. He repeated over and over again how frightening it was when a fighter jet swooped down so close, dropping bombs on the neighboring houses. He was so terrified that his heart almost jumped out of his chest. Denys also told me how he had saved his best friend, a teddy bear, even though he was so terribly frightened.

“I pressed him to my chest to protect him from bombs,” the boy said. “I covered his ears and eyes so he wouldn’t hear and see those horrible things. When the fighter jet left, we jumped into our car and drove away, very-very fast. Under the bullets, because the shelling never stopped. Why do they do it? Why do they kill other people?!”

Denys painted me and the flag of Ukraine, himself and the flag of Ukraine, flowers and the flag of Ukraine, an eight and yet another flag — the flag of Ukraine in whose victory he believes and whose help he is still awaiting in the basement.

In a few days, our defenders in Mariupol downed that jet. It was a miracle, really. God must have helped them because they did not get any other help. The defenders of Mariupol are real heroes, but they have not received any anti-aircraft weapons, fighter jets, or any other outside support yet.

On the eve of the International Women’s Day, Denys made a postcard for me. Unfortunately, I did not take it away with me, as I left quite suddenly, but his painting will stay in my memory and my heart forever.

Denys painted me and the flag of Ukraine, himself and the flag of Ukraine, flowers and the flag of Ukraine, an eight and yet another flag — the flag of Ukraine in whose victory he believes and whose help he is still awaiting in the basement.

Before I left the shelter, I hugged Denys, and he asked me to tell Volodymyr Zelenskyy — once I had cell service — that he was in Mariupol waiting for help. But the boy, wise beyond his years, did not ask the president to rescue him from the basement but to send reinforcements to our defenders. Anti-aircraft weapons and a few fighter jets.

Did you hear that, mister Commander-in-Chief?! Thank you for your attention!

Author — Oksana Stomina, poet, writer

Translator — Hanna Leliv

Illustrator — Victoria Boyko

Editor — Maryna Korchaka

Program Directors — Julia Ovcharenko, Demyan Om

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