It was the Ukrainian mother who scrawled her family’s contact details on her daughter’s back in case the bombings left the child motherless.
Sasha Makoviy, wrote the little one’s family name, date of birth and phone numbers on her skin as they fled kyiv.
The heartbreaking image of child Vira was shared online earlier this month and has quickly become a symbol of the horrors faced by ordinary parents in the conflict.
But Miss Makoviy stayed with Vira and said they were now safe in the south of France. They live with Miss Makoviy’s mother in a house in the peaceful village of Lespignan near Béziers, thanks to a French family.
Sasha Makoviy, 33, wrote her 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 worried 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 worried that Vira would never know who she was and never know her origins.
The art teacher said The temperature: ‘She was a long-awaited child and I really wanted to raise her with the vision of our family, with love, books and art.
“I was not afraid of dying but of being dead and thinking that no one could raise Vira like I would.”
One of his 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 prepared for the invasion better than many Ukrainians because she had begun to worry 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 subway telling travelers, “You’re in the best city in the best country in the world.”
“My radar picked it up right away,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh, that sounds a bit Nazi.’
Miss Makoviy, who also worked as a gallery assistant in Kyiv, was also tuned in to the international press and took early reports warning of a Russian invasion seriously.
Her friends thought she was ‘hysterical’ when she decided to take 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 clothes in case of injury. It made me think the clothes could be taken off and why I wrote on Vira’s back,’ she said.
Reflecting on the image, which has gone viral on social media, she said her handwriting was “awful” and that she spelled a phone number wrong because she was shaking so much.
Miss Makoviy set off with Vira to Vinnytsia, south-west of kyiv, then across the border to Romania where they flew to Brussels and made their way to France, where volunteers found them a home.
Miss Makoviy knew she had to leave her home when the capital began to resound with “loud sounds, sounds I had never heard before, sounds of bombardment” at the start of the invasion.
She said some of her friends who talked about leaving Ukraine if it was invaded couldn’t budge when the time came.
She recalled, “They were frozen. My friends said, “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 left with Vira to Vinnytsia, southwest of kyiv, then across the border to Romania where they flew to Brussels and headed to France, where volunteers found them a home.
Miss Makoviy’s mother, Anna Klymenko, 57, initially insisted on staying in kyiv, but relatives managed 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 affected.
In a social media post updating supporters on their situation, the mother uploaded photos of Vira playing in the sand for the first time.
Alongside an Instagram photo, showing the girl with a bouquet of yellow flowers, she said: ‘I am moved to tears. I just want everyone to know that Vira and I are safe.