People story


Story 26: Lilya

In September 2022, Kherson was still occupied by the Russians, but they were already preparing for withdrawal as the AFU approached. At that time, the occupiers organized “summer camps” for students in Kherson. Even though it would be suspicious to do so in September, at the beginning of the school year, pro-Russian teachers encouraged parents to send their children to camps in Crimea and Russia. As the students spent three weeks there, apart from their families, nobody rushed to return them back. Children were silently kidnapped and deported to Russia or temporarily occupied territories, such as Crimea.

This happened to Lilya, an 11-year-old daughter of a single mother, Tetiana. Lillian’s class teacher, a collaborator, announced that the entire class would attend a summer camp in Crimea for two weeParents were instructed to bring birth certificates and other documents for their children and arrive at the river port at 6am the next morning for the steamboat trip across the Black Sea. Tetiana was skeptical of the trip, but the teacher insisted. And plus, Lilya wanted to see the sea for the first time.

Lilya said that everything was fine. The kids went to concerts, visited sightseeing, swam in the sea, etc. But everything was in Russian, and they had to sing the Russian anthem every morning. They were undergoing “patriotic” re-education.

After two weeks, Lilya was supposed to go home, but nobody mentioned it. After a couple of days, Tetiana was notified the children were moved from the camp to another facility. Then she didn’t receive any updates and lost connection with Lilya.  

Only in a couple of months, Tetiana found traces of her daughter in Crimea. Volunteer organization helped her and other mothers to get to Crimea by bus (through the Poland-Russian border). Tetiana went to the facility where Lilya was put in and took away her daughter. They are now back in the liberated Kherson.


Subscribe for our news and update