An 11-year-old Ukrainian boy has been hailed as a “true hero” after he traveled 600 miles to Slovakia on his own to escape the Russians — with a phone number scrawled on his hand.
The child, who is from Zaporizhzhia, the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant that was seized by Russia last week, was sent off alone on a train by his desperate mom to find relatives while she stayed behind to care for her sick mother, the UK’s Metro reported.
In a video, the boy’s widowed mother, Yulia Volodymyrivna Pisecka, described why she decided to send her son on the perilous journey.
“There’s a nuclear power plant next to my town, which the Russians were shooting at. It was on fire,” she said, the Independent reported.
“I can’t leave my mother, she can’t move independently, so I sent my son alone on a train toward the Slovak border,” Pisecka said.
“There, he met people with a big heart. A small country has people with big hearts. ‘Please save our Ukrainian children and give them a safe haven,’ ” she added.
Volunteers at the border picked up the young refugee and looked after him.
“He gained all of them with his smile, fearlessness and determination, worthy of a true hero,” the Slovakian Ministry of Interior said in a statement.
The boy arrived with a backpack, plastic bag, passport and the all-important phone number written on his hand — which allowed the volunteers to contact his relatives in Bratislava, the statement added.
Pisecka thanked Slovakian authorities for helping her son, as well as customs officers at the border who “took him by the hand and helped him cross the border in Slovakia,” the Independent reported.
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“I am grateful you saved my son’s life,” she said.