She is the Ukrainian mother who scrawled family contact details on her daughter’s back in case bombing left the child motherless.
Sasha Makoviy, wrote the toddler’s name, date of birth and family phone numbers on her skin as they fled Kyiv.
The heartbreaking image of the child, Vira, was shared online earlier this month and quickly became a symbol of the horrors faced by ordinary parents in the conflict.
But Miss Makoviy stayed with Vira and said they are now safe in the south of France. They are living with Miss Makoviy’s mother in a home in the quiet village of Lespignan near Beziers, thanks to a French family.
Sasha Makoviy, 33, wrote her contact details on her two-year-old daughter’s back in case her family were killed by Russian soldiers
Speaking about her fears as she left Kyiv, Miss Makoviy, 33, said yesterday: ‘I was really scared that Vira would never know who she was and never know her origins’
Speaking about her fears as she left Kyiv, Miss Makoviy, 33, said yesterday: ‘I was really scared that Vira would never know who she was and never know her origins.’
The art teacher told The Times: ‘She was such a long-awaited child and I really wanted to bring her up with the outlook of our family, with love and books and art.
‘I wasn’t scared of dying but of being dead and the thought that nobody could bring up Vira as I would.’
One of her fears was that Vira could be taken by Russians who have since been accused of transporting children to camps across the border.
Miss Makoviy said she had been more prepared for the invasion than many Ukrainians as she had started worrying about the Kremlin’s intentions after visiting Moscow a few years ago.
She recalled how her ‘radar’ went off after hearing an announcement on the metro system telling travellers: ‘You are in the best city in the best country in the world.’
‘My radar picked that up straight away,’ she said. ‘I thought: “’Oh, that sounds a little bit Nazi”.’
Miss Makoviy, who also worked as a gallery assistant in Kyiv, was also tuned into international press and took early reports warning of a Russian invasion seriously.
Her friends thought she was ‘hysterical’ when she decided to heed advice and plan for the worst by packing important documents, water, medicine and other essential supplies.
‘Part of the information was that you need scissors to remove the clothes in case of injury. That made me think clothes could be removed and why I wrote on Vira’s back,’ she said.
Reflecting on the image, which went viral on social media, she said her handwriting was ‘horrible’ and she had written one phone digit incorrectly as she was shaking so much.
Miss Makoviy set out with Vira to Vinnytsia, southwest of Kyiv, then across the border to Romania where they flew to Brussels and headed to France, where volunteers have found them a home
Miss Makoviy knew she had to leave her home when the capital began to resonate with ‘powerful sounds, sounds that I had never heard before, sounds of bombing’ at the start of the invasion.
She said some of her friends who had talked of leaving Ukraine if it were invaded had been unable to move when the time came.
She recalled: ‘They were frozen. My friends were saying: “It’s better to stay at home. It’s safe here.”
‘But that’s because it’s scary to leave when you have nowhere to go. You have to be brave to do that.’
She set out with Vira to Vinnytsia, southwest of Kyiv, then across the border to Romania where they flew to Brussels and headed to France, where volunteers have found them a home.
Miss Makoviy’s mother Anna Klymenko, 57, had initially insisted on staying in Kyiv but relatives were able to convince her to leave.
She fled to Poland before joining her daughter and granddaughter in France – a week later her street in the capital was hit.
In a social media post updating well-wishers of their situation, the mother uploaded photos of Vira playing in sand for the first time.
Alongside one Instagram picture, showing the girl with a bunch of yellow flowers, she said: ‘I’m moved to tears. I just want to let everyone know Vira and I are safe.’
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk