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Evacuation of children from the orphanage

Story and photo: Maksym Muzyka

Illustration: #OleksandrShatokhin

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“It is impossible to evacuate orphans because of the fighting. The Russians shot up a bus with their teachers yesterday,” — that's what everyone said about an orphanage in Mykolaiv, one of the most shelled Ukrainian cities. At the beginning of March 2022, 150 children remained at the orphanage.


Maksym, a volunteer and an ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operation) veteran, still decided to try to take the children to a safe place. He analyzed that there was a chance to slip through, although the risks are great. He just needed to somehow overcome the 120 km from Kropyvnytskyi to Mykolaiv where he could pick up children, and also convince the local authorities, the police, the army and the management of the orphanage that Maksym can be entrusted with the lives of one and a half hundred children.


While Maksym was driving south from Kyiv to Kropyvnytskyi, he contacted everyone who could help. Firstly, the commander of a group of a local regiment to find out what was the state of affairs in hot spots. Secondly, friends in the Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration to get the contacts of their colleagues from Kropyvnytskyi. Finally, the management of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration, so that they would find evacuation buses and prepare to receive the children.


Everything was ready in Kropyvnytskyi, but no one understood who Maksym was and what authority he had to take children somewhere. They began to find out, but received the same answer on all channels: “The person has been confirmed, but what he does and who he works for is unknown.” Meanwhile, time was short: the gap for evacuation was closing soon. So they gave buses to Maksym and even asked the regimental commander to back up the convoy after several more checks by the Security Service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. Maksym had contacted the management of the orphanage and had convinced them of the need to evacuate.


The military again warned Maksym that battles were taking place along the route of the journey. Along the way near Mykolaiv, Maksym and the other volunteers saw destroyed Russian equipment, and fortunately, the busses arrived without incident. Maksym wrote a receipt that he accepted the pupils of the institution for evacuation. Military and police escorted the convoy to a safe place in Kropyvnytskyi, where the children were already met by the management of the regional administration, tutors, psychologists and dinner.

This story became an example for Maksym that even a person without the necessary position can take responsibility and save someone's life.

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