“That’s it, your daughter is gone.” How a 24-year-old Ukrainian woman did not believe these words, searched for and returned her little daughter from the occupation

“That’s it, your daughter is gone.”  How a 24-year-old Ukrainian woman did not believe these words, searched for and returned her little daughter from the occupation

At the time of the full-scale invasion, Lydia and Denis were far from their young daughter Ivanka. The girl and her relatives ended up in the occupation in Mariupol. Contact with relatives has disappeared. After some time, the woman was sent an SMS that her daughter was no longer there. But Lydia did not believe it and decided to find her child. The woman herself was once adopted from an orphanage, so she was afraid that the girl would be transferred to an orphanage in Russia, and she would lose her forever. However, on June 28, 2023, at one of the checkpoints, the almost detective story of the return of two-year-old Ivanka Mysko, who found herself in the occupation, ended. Her parents – Lidia and Denis – were finally able to see their daughter. “Ukrainian truth. Life” tells their story. The names and surnames of the characters have been changed for security reasons. Ivanka after returning to her parents “Vse, your daughter is gone…” Lida Mysko gave birth at the height of the coronavirus epidemic, in October 2020. “I had a panic fear of getting infected,” says Lida. “But Ivanka was born healthy. I was happy. On the eve of the war, Ivanka lived with my husband Denys’s grandmother and his father (his mother died) in the Donetsk region. My husband and I worked at work , where he is on a permanent business trip. On February 23, when messages began to appear on Telegram channels that around 6:30 p.m. one of the districts of the Donetsk region was shelled, my husband and I were not at home. I rushed to call my husband’s mother-in-law and grandmother. I asked to leave with Ivanka to my parents in another city.” But the grandmother answered Lida that they would sit through this trouble at home, in the village, as it was in 2014. Then they decided to go to Mariupol, where Lida and her husband Denys had their own apartment. “I don’t think Russian troops will bomb Mariupol. Let’s hide there,” said the man’s grandmother. However, the city was mercilessly bombed. “On March 5, I spoke to my family for the last time. Then the connection disappeared. My daughter was only one year and five months old at that time. I could not work normally. I went crazy. I called everywhere I could to find out about the child. I wrote in social networks. After an enemy plane dropped a bomb on the Mariupol Drama Theater on March 16, 2022, I couldn’t sleep. I could see my daughter crying, that she was reaching out to me from those ruins… I opened every reply on social networks, every text message with trembling hands. And once she read a terrible message: “That’s it, your daughter is gone…” – says Lida. “I didn’t believe it” “I didn’t believe it! – says the woman. – She said to herself: “It can’t be like that! I feel in my heart that everything is fine with her!”. In the end, someone wrote to Lydia on social networks that the father-in-law with the grandmother and the child somehow miraculously got out of Mariupol and walked 10 kilometers to the village where they had a house. “I couldn’t contact them. The mobile towers of Ukrainian operators were broken. Russian operators appeared, and I didn’t know the new phone numbers of my relatives. They didn’t contact me either. Maybe they lost the phones with my number. Maybe , they were afraid. Ah? maybe they were no longer in that village – the family was forcibly moved to the territory of Russia! Just thinking about it made me sick. I was very afraid that Ivanka would be taken to Russia, locked up in an orphanage, and I would no longer care about her I will never see,” Lydia says. The woman knew what an orphanage was. Once upon a time, her biological mother left her with a neighbor and never returned. The girl was at the orphanage either a frightened numb mouse, or sobbing so hard that she could not be soothed. “And we were just looking for a girl,” says Lida’s mother, Nadiya Petrovna. “My husband and I already had a son, but we wanted a daughter. And now we are sitting in the office of the director of the orphanage, and they are bringing Lidochka. The director says: “But she looks like you !” And it’s true! One day she comes and says: “You are not my parents.” Someone from the children at school told her our secret. Somewhere, probably, they heard from adults. My husband sat Lidusya opposite him and said: “Do you want to know the truth? “. And I told her everything, they said, so and so, we don’t know your father, your mother was not young. We don’t know what she left either. If you want to look for them, look for them. I can give you the documents.” The child was transported through one of the neighboring countries. “The carrier received 50,000 in advance and disappeared.” Days passed, and there was no news about Ivanka. “Finally, at the end of July 2022, my father-in-law’s girlfriend (also a widower) named Marina approached me: “We live in the village. Everything is fine with the child. is growing She’s laughing,” says Lydia. “Marina gave me a phone number that I could use to contact through Russian mobile operators. I called and heard my mother-in-law, I heard my daughter… They’re alive!” The woman contacted the carriers, who promised to take the child and her husband’s relatives out of the territory not under the control of the Ukrainian government for crazy money. The drivers asked for payment in advance. Once she paid 50 thousand hryvnias in advance, but the carrier did not contact her again. For the second time, she already transferred 32,000 to another. Same story. Then Lida began to beg her father-in-law to leave on her own. His car was intact and parked in the yard. But the man did not take any chances: the day before, the invaders shot with mortars the family’s car, which was trying to escape from the uncontrolled territory. So this time too, the rescue of the child failed. Weeks followed weeks, months followed months. The mother was frantically looking for a way out. Irina Vereshchuk wrote on the page of the Deputy Prime Minister, head of the Ministry for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine. “They helped me contact Anastasia, a social work specialist from the “Ukrainian Network for Children’s Rights”. They decided to take the child out by another route. It was an extremely difficult operation. A long walk! The child was taken out through one of the neighboring countries. The father-in-law and grandmother, with the help of volunteers, brought Ivanka from the uncontrolled territory to the Novoazovsk checkpoint, but that day the story with Prigozhin began and everything had to be changed,” Lidia recalls. On another occasion, the child was taken to another checkpoint. On that side, they did not want to miss them. Meanwhile, Lida’s mother, Nadiya Petrivna, who was waiting for news from her daughter, while sitting in one of the villages of the Donetsk region, kept calling her. “We prayed to God every day for everyone,” says Nadiya Petrovna. “And my 83-year-old mother, who lives with us, also prayed. We waited all day for morning, when my daughter and her husband stood at the border. And when Lida downloaded the photo that she is already with Ivanka, then my hands were shaking, and I cried from happiness…” “I recognized her! Even though we hadn’t seen each other for a year and a half” Lydia had another reason for worry – would her daughter recognize her mother, because they broke up when the child was very small. “I recognized her! Even though we haven’t seen each other for a year and a half, – the woman does not hide her smile. – When we took her, she was 2 years and 9 months old. She came running… Tears, kisses… A pink suit, a ponytail on her head. Already an adult! It was happiness! I am very grateful to my father-in-law and my husband’s grandmother for saving our child in such terrible conditions.” Lida took a vacation for 10 days to spend more time with Ivanka. Then she has to go to work in another city again. Fortunately, the long separation from the mother did not affect the child’s development. She also gets used to Nadia’s grandmother, Lida’s mother. “When my granddaughter was brought to us, I wanted to hug her, hold her,” says Nadiya Petrivna. “She didn’t give in at first. She got used to it! But later she began to reach for me more. He picked cucumbers – she helped wash in the yard. I did laundry – she she loves toys. She doesn’t leave her mother – she pulls her by her dress, by her shorts. And she loves her mother’s stuffed animals very much! She’s restless! She’s with us – and that’s the main thing.” * * * The material was prepared within the framework of the “WAY HOME” project, aimed at finding and returning children displaced to the Russian Federation or to territories temporarily not controlled by the government of Ukraine. The project is implemented by the “Ukrainian Network for Children’s Rights” in partnership with the international humanitarian organization Save the Children in Ukraine. The Network’s partners in the project are the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine, the EDUKIDS Charitable Fund, and the Media Initiative for Human Rights. The materials developed within the project do not necessarily reflect the official position of Save the Children.

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