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In Ukraine, 11-year-old takes care of mom, sister who lost their legs in Russian shelling

For 11-year-old Yaroslav, life changed the moment a Russian missile strike hit a railway station in the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk in April.

May 13, 2022 / 12:53 PM IST
Yaroslav, 11, has been looking after his family in hospital since the day of the Kramatorsk station attack in Ukraine. (Image: MFA_Ukraine/Twitter)

Yaroslav, 11, has been looking after his family in hospital since the day of the Kramatorsk station attack in Ukraine. (Image: MFA_Ukraine/Twitter)


For 11-year-old Yaroslav, life changed the moment a Russian missile strike hit a railway station in the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk in April. Yaroslav, who was at the station with his mother and twin sister at the time, miraculously escaped without injuries, but his family was not as lucky. His mother, Natalia, and his sister, Yana, both lost their legs in the Russian shelling.

For Yaroslav, it meant growing up overnight. The 11-year-old has been looking after his family in hospital since the day of the Kramatorsk station attack.


Yaroslav’s story was shared by a hospital in Lviv, Ukraine, where his mother and sister have been receiving treatment since April 8, the day of the attack.

According to a Facebook post by the St Nicholas Children’s Hospital of the First Medical Association of Lviv, Yaroslav, Yana and Natalia were among the thousands of Ukrainians who were waiting at the Kramatorsk station for evacuation trains when rockets hit. The twins don’t have a father. Their stepfather had already joined the fight against Russia when their mother, desperate to flee Russian shelling, took them to the station.

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She still blames herself for the tragedy that followed. While waiting for the train, Yana asked her mother for tea that was being distributed by volunteers. Yaroslav was tasked with guarding the luggage while his mother and sister went to fetch tea – and that’s when he heard a loud explosion.

Natalia recalls seeing her daughter with no legs when she opened her eyes after the strike. “I realized that myself without one limb,” she said. The mother of two still cries from time to time and blames herself for going out to get tea.


For Yaroslav, the attack meant shouldering responsibilities far beyond his years. Today, the 11-year-old helps his mother and sister get dressed, brings them food and water and even goes to the store next to the hospital by himself.

But the family, who has been in hospital for weeks, finally has something to cheer for – they will soon fly to the US for prosthetic surgery and rehabilitation.

Yaroslav says he wants his mother and sister to get better. Till then, he promises to be their support system.



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Sanya Jain
first published: May 13, 2022 12:48 pm
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