Ilya is seven years old, has a sly look and a lot of courage. She lives in the village of Davydky, in the Narodnytsia district of northern Ukraine, less than an hour from the border with Belarus. When the bombs arrived, he asked his grandmother to be left alone because she was not afraid of the Russians and would get away with it. In reality Ilya does not walk and did not want to be a burden to his family. The director of Caritas Spes of the diocese of Kiev-Zhytomyr, Father Vitalyi Uminskyi, and Sister Frantsyska Tumanevych, who coordinates aid, tell ANSA the story of this child-hero.
“A few days ago they managed to reach a grandmother who is raising three grandchildren who no longer have their parents. The mother was killed in December, before the war, and there is no news of her father. The village where they live was bombed” , says Sister Frantsyska welcoming us in the cramped Caritas office in Zhytomyr (“but at the moment we don’t have any money for a bigger office”) from where aid buses depart every day for the populations who have been isolated in recent days due to bombing, the arrival of the Russians and then also from mines.
“The youngest, Ilya, suffers from muscle wasting. When he realized that the situation was becoming dangerous he said to his grandmother: ‘Go away because I can manage alone’. In reality he felt that he was an obstacle to escape and wanted her to at least the two brothers were saved “. The grandmother remained in the small house, actually little more than a room, with all three grandchildren, between the fear of the blows that came and the food that was starting to run out because, during the attacks, no one could leave the house. “We managed to reach them only a few days ago because the roads are mined – Father Vitalyi reports – and unfortunately we received news that a few days ago a rescuers car blew up precisely because of a mine”.
Ilya, when the Caritas volunteers arrived, was lying on a bed because the cruelty of the war added to an already difficult situation for that family and the child was never treated as necessary. “The next time we brought a wheelchair and crutches to get him up, you can’t imagine how happy he was,” said the volunteers of Caritas Spes who had been called by the Ukrainian army itself. Once the Narodnytsia area was liberated, where the Russians attacked and occupied the villages for forty days, it was the military who asked the Catholic Church for help so that these people could have water, food and basic necessities.
Ilya’s home was not completely destroyed and the aid eased the family’s conditions. But Caritas Spes now has a dream, that of “having Iliuscia treated in Europe, in a large hospital outside Ukraine, perhaps in Italy. The child has a great character, he is sunny despite everything. We are sure he can lead a better life. of what she has lived up to now “, is the hope of Sister Frantsyska.
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