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Lviv, Ukraine
Roman Oleksiv is eight years old. He can go back to school – and this is not a matter of course, but – another step in a long recovery process: learning despite life-threatening burns and a serious
head injury.

Yaroslav Oleksiv, father of Roman»Roman
and my wife were waiting for a doctor's appointment at the neurological clinic when the rockets fell, there were explosions. My wife was killed. Roman was one of the few who survived the air raid."

Vinnytsia, Ukraine / July 2022
It was mid-July last year when a Russian cruise missile landed in front of the clinic in the central city of Vinnytsia – one of the most devastating attacks on civilians since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine. Roman's mother was one of 28 people who lost their lives. Roman suffered shrapnel wounds to his head, a broken arm, torn muscles to his leg, and burns to 45 percent of his body.

He was treated for a year in a special clinic for burns in Dresden.

Yaroslav Oleksiv, father of Roman
»During the year in Dresden, he had 31 operations. In the beginning it was very exhausting, an operation every other day, all under general anesthesia. But we managed to save Roman's life, even though no one gave him a chance to survive. We didn't know if he would ever be able to walk again, move his hand or his fingers. But thanks to the doctors, thanks to Roman's superhuman efforts and exercises, it all opened the door for him to dance and play musical instruments again."

Roman still regularly travels to Dresden for treatments, but at home in Lviv he tries to get used to a normal everyday life again. This includes, for example, music – and his second passion, dancing.

The eight-year-old already felt fit enough to take part in a competition with his dance partner. He also keeps his eyes on the future during the waltz.

Yaroslav Oleksiv, father of Roman
»He is a fantastic boy. The question is not what he has been through, but how he will continue. This is very important. I hope that with the same strength as now, he will continue to grow, develop, improve and that everything will go well for him."

Roman will have years of treatment ahead of him, including further surgeries. His father says he tries not to dwell too much on the past. But with the future.