In an astonishing turn of events, a mother made the painstakingly difficult decision of sending her son away to protect him. She wrote a phone number on his arm and kissed him goodbye, not knowing if she'll ever see him again.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, over three million people have been forced to flee their homeland and find shelter in neighboring European countries. The ongoing war has uprooted homes, destroyed countless lives, and bred fear, uncertainty, and chaos amongst people.
Every cloud has a silver lining, and the story we're sharing with you today is profoundly heartwarming and will give you hope for better times and a brighter, calmer future ahead.
A HEART-SHATTERING DECISION
A short while after the Russia-Ukraine war began, a mother became increasingly distressed given the dire situation in her town. Julia Pisecka lived in Zaporizhzhia, a city located on the Dnieper River in southeast Ukraine.
The woman lived with her 11-year-old son, Hassan, and her elderly mother. When the Russians started shelling a power plant near her town, Pisecka worried for her sweet boy because she couldn't bear the thought of something happening to him.
But Pisecka said she couldn't leave her mother behind because she couldn't move by herself and needed someone to look after her. After much deliberation, she made the heartbreaking decision to send her son, Hassan, to a place where he could be safe.
A PAINFUL GOODBYE
The nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia is the biggest in Europe. It was seized by Russia after an attack that President Volodymyr Zelensky warned could cause massive destruction on a scale much bigger than the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
One of Hassan's sisters also described that this wasn't the first time her youngest brother had fled his home amidst war.
With a plastic bag, a small red backpack, his passport, and a number scrawled on his hand, Hassan was put on a train that took him away from his mom all the way to the border. The 11-year-old boy embarked on a 750-mile journey to Slovakia alone.
"A REAL HERO"
Once he arrived at the border, he was greeted by friendly volunteers who welcomed him with food, drinks, and warm clothing. The border officials saw the contact details scribbled on his hand and found a handwritten note in his pocket.
Then, they contacted his relatives in the Slovak capital Bratislava. The Slovakian officials warmly received Hassan, and he quickly won the hearts of everyone around him. The Slovakian Interior Ministry posted about the brave little man on Facebook and said:
"[The boy] won everybody's hearts with his smile, fearlessness and determination, worthy of a real hero."
Thanks to the customs officers, Hassan's relatives came to pick him up, and he left with them safely. After his harrowing border-crossing journey, Hassan sat beside his four older siblings and shared his experience with Good Morning Britain.
He said he was delighted to be reunited with his siblings, and being away from them had been difficult for him. His sister expressed how concerned she was for him, given that he is the youngest of the brood. She added:
"I was very, very worried and... it was surprising. I too was very shocked.
Hassan pictured with his four siblings. | Source: youtube.com/Good Morning Britain
OPENING UP ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCE
When asked what was the scariest part of his journey, Hassan's sister translated his words and replied:
"He said the train was very full. He was without us and everyone was talking in a foreign language, he wasn't understanding anything."
Moreover, Hassan's siblings revealed that they had already informed their mother about his safe arrival and were worried for her and their grandmother, who were still in Ukraine.
NOT THE FIRST TIME
One of Hassan's sisters also described that this wasn't the first time her youngest brother had fled his home amidst war. She said Hassan was a baby when their family left Syria. She recalled:
"He [Hassan] was very small and doesn't remember. I was glad for it and I hoped he would never see such war."
Hassan and his siblings moved to their mom's native country, Ukraine, after spending their early childhood in Syria. The little boy's sister said their Syrian dad disappeared in the conflict.
Meanwhile, Hassan's mom, Pisecka, who said she was a widow, thanked everyone who received her son warmly. A teary-eyed Pisecka also pleaded for Ukrainian children to be provided a safe haven.
THE LONG RIDE
In a video message, the widow extended heartfelt gratitude to the Slovak officers and volunteers who helped ensure Hassan's safety. Almost two weeks after her boy's safe arrival in Slovakia, Pisecka and her mom decided to escape Ukraine with their little dog. She recounted:
"The train ride was very difficult. Hundreds were crammed in a single car. But we had to escape so our family could be back together."
A teary-eyed Julia Pisecka. | Source: facebook.com/ministerstvovnutraSR
REUNITED AT LAST
After what seemed like forever, Hassan and his siblings were finally reunited with their mom and grandma, and the momentous occasion included countless hugs, kisses, and tears of joy.
Unlike how things played out when the family fled Syria, they lived to enjoy a happy ending this time. Pisecka was finally relieved to hug her little boy, who she thought she'd never see again. The little pup was also delighted to be surrounded by his loved ones.
According to the Ukrainian police, Pisecka's eldest son is only 20 and the head of the family. They had lost everything, including their home, necessary documentation, and other important stuff, but they had each other, and it was all that mattered to them.
The war is still not over, and it continues to threaten countless lives. Let's hope that things settle down in Ukraine and that peace prevails in the region. If you liked reading this beautiful story, please share it with your loved ones.
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