A Ukrainian mother who scribbled contact details on her daughter’s back in pen as she prepared to flee the war has described her desperation to ensure she would be looked after if they were separated.
Sasha Makoviy, 33, wrote the name of two-year-old Vira on her skin, along with contact phone numbers, on the first day of the Russian invasion in February as she prepared to evacuate her home in kyiv.
Speaking through tears, she told the PA news agency: ‘I decided to blame Vira for the information because I was really scared. She’s the most precious thing in my life, so I couldn’t imagine if we got lost.
“I thought if I died she could find out who she is, what family she is from, and maybe find some familiar people who could take care of her.
“And that’s why.”
Having now escaped to the south of France with Vira, Ms Makoviy, an artist, posted the image on Instagram on Friday.
It has since gone viral, both on Instagram and on Twitter, where it received over 200,000 likes after being shared by a journalist.
Ms Makoviy said the image struck a chord with her compatriots.
“First it was shared by some of my friends, then it was shared among Ukrainians. It really touches them because thousands of other parents had to do it,” she said.
“One of my followers wrote to me in posts that she even put the words, ‘Please take care of my baby’. She wrote it on the baby, just in case.
“That’s how we all feel in our country.”
Ms Makoviy recalled the morning she took the photo – as Russian forces crossed the border.
She said she was “shaking a lot” and “couldn’t concentrate on anything” as she struggled to come to terms with what was happening.
As they prepared to leave, after writing the information on Vira’s back, she said she realized she could have done a better job.
Saying she should have used a permanent marker, she added: “I was shaking so much that all the words were horribly written.
“But it’s so strange that in the 21st century I have to do this stuff. It’s incredible. It’s so horrible because I had everything I needed in kyiv: a good life, a peaceful life.
“I even did the daily routine while we were packing. I did things like make the bed and wash the dishes because I couldn’t even realize it was for real and we had to leave our house.
Now she and Vira are safe in France, where they get “a lot of help” and where “the people are so nice”.
But Ms Makoviy said her anxiety levels remained high.
“Even here in France, when we walk around the countryside with Vira, every moment I’m just afraid of something like mine,” she said.