Defend Truth


On this day, let’s remember the mothers of Ukraine who move mountains to protect their families


Liubov Abravitova is the Ambassador of Ukraine to South Africa.

As I write this, it is early Sunday morning of a very special day in Ukraine — Mother’s Day. We honour our moms on the second Sunday of May and celebrate the extraordinary importance of mothers in our lives, their love and the sacrifices they make for their families. Motherhood is extremely hard work and we applaud and praise those who gave support and love and inspired us with their personal examples.

Mother’s Day is a very meaningful day in my family — my mother has always been a powerful presence in my life; we’ve built a beautiful, meaningful relationship and she is absolutely everything to me and my family. I’ve been a mom for a decade now, and though the job is challenging, to say the least, I would not trade a day with my boys for anything in this world.

Being a mom is such a blessing for me. Without a shadow of a doubt, there’s nothing I would not do for my kids, for their happiness, wellbeing and safety. Every hour of every day since Russia launched its attack on Ukraine, I’ve witnessed the mothers of Ukraine moving mountains to protect their families.

As the war unfolds around us, in all of its diabolical horror, we have lived through the most unimaginable grief and pain. We’ve seen so much pure evil that Russian terrorists brought to our land that at times I don’t know how we can go forward having gone through Hell.

(Photo: Supplied)

I cannot imagine being a mom in Mariupol, a city which Russian terrorists are annihilating. I watched a video a year ago and I can honestly say it’s going to stay with me as long as I live. There’s no footage, just a voice recording of a mom and her little child. It’s clear that they are trapped in the apartment and there are explosions going on all around them as Russian bombs and missiles rain on the city. You can hear the horror in her voice as she quietly and calmly assures her child that they are going to be fine and that the planes aren’t going to harm them. I can’t imagine being her. I can’t imagine…

(Photo: Supplied)

This Ukrainian mom is unidentified to this day. We don’t know if they were able to survive or make it out of Mariupol.

I cannot imagine being the mom of one of our hero soldiers, our defenders who were filmed while being tortured and killed by Russians. I cannot imagine the all-consuming grief they must feel. True for too many Ukrainian moms.

I cannot imagine being a mom giving birth in a dark basement as Russians terrorise my city. It happened and is still happening all over Ukraine, as we are bombed every single day.

(Photo: Supplied)

The photo of a pregnant Ukrainian woman being carried out of a maternity ward after a Russian airstrike on the hospital is forever etched in my memory. The mom and her unborn child died the following day —just for being a Ukrainian mother and a Ukrainian child.

I cannot imagine being a new mom with a beautiful two-day-old, still in the maternity ward of a hospital and losing my little angel when the hospital is shelled. This happened to a Ukrainian mother, whose two-day-old son was killed when artillery fire hit a maternity ward in the city of Vilniansk, Zaporizhzhia. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt in this war, it’s that given a chance, Russians bomb schools, children’s hospitals, maternity wards and buildings with “CHILDREN” written on them.

(Photo: Supplied)

I cannot imagine being the mom of an infant raped by a paedophile who then proudly sends a video of his crime to his friends. There are multiple instances of Ukrainian children being raped, tortured and unlawfully confined, and in many cases, relatives were forced to witness the crimes.

I cannot breathe when I think about what these moms and their angels went through and still go through every day in the occupied territories. These war crimes are well documented.

I cannot imagine being the mom who went out to the store and returned to find her home destroyed by a Russian missile … hoping and praying that her family is alive under the rubble. I cannot imagine the unbearable pain of the Ukrainian moms after recent missile attacks on apartment buildings in Dnipro and Uman.

I cannot imagine waiting for a train with my kids to take them to safety and a moment later seeing them on the ground in pools of blood with missing limbs, which happened to Ukrainian mom Natalia and her kids during the infamous strike on the civilian train station in Kramatorsk.

The bodies of our fallen heroes

I can’t imagine waiting for months for my child’s remains to be brought back home, so I can pay my last respects and honour the beautiful life that was given for our safety and freedom. So many of our moms are still waiting for their children to come home one last time, to properly say their goodbyes, to put their bodies to rest. I cannot imagine. 

There are still many Ukrainian territories that are either occupied or so heavily shelled that there’s no chance of retrieving the bodies of our fallen heroes, despite the multiple volunteers who dedicated their days to bringing the bodies home after they’ve been retrieved from the battleground.

I cannot imagine having to flee my country, my home, my family and my life to save my kids… I cannot imagine not having a home and a family to come back to after our ultimate victory. A true story for millions of Ukrainian moms who had to flee the country.

I cannot imagine being the mom of a stolen and deported child, in an occupied territory where I cannot do anything and have no rights. Having my child stolen, deported, stripped of all human rights and put up for adoption in Russia. My heart breaks every time I think of the agony they are living in. A true story for thousands of Ukrainian moms whose children were stolen and deported.

I cannot imagine being a mom in a Russian filtration camp, being separated from my kids without even being given a chance to say goodbye. Not even having a chance to hug your child before dying. A true story of a Ukrainian mom, Snizhanna from Mariupol. All her son has left are the photos from his mother’s Instagram page from a time before the war.

I cannot imagine having to buy my kids whistles so that if they survive a missile strike they can blow them from under the rubble.

I cannot imagine receiving a message from the kindergarten that my kids are now locked in the bomb shelter due to a missile strike.

I cannot imagine waiting for my POW child at home, one unbearable day after the next.

I cannot imagine having to write my name and telephone on my child’s back in case the evacuation goes wrong and I get killed, or separated.

I cannot imagine running out of food and water in occupied and heavily bombed territories and watching my children starve and not being able to do anything about it.

Being a mom in Ukraine now is a living Hell for so many.

I pray for every single Ukrainian mom, every day. To those moms who are now protecting their kids on a battlefield, to those moms saving our soldiers in the hospitals, to those volunteering, to those working to save our economy, to those giving birth and creating new life, to those keeping their kids safe, to all Ukrainian mothers: we are eternally grateful. Thank you! Happy Mother’s Day! DM


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