News agency 'Vchasno'

«He Himself Wrote a Letter to Boris Johnson»: Incredible Story of Illia from Mariupol, Who Lost His Parents and Found New Family

The attack of Russian occupants on Ukraine caught little Illia in Mariupol, where he lived with his mother and stepfather. From the first day of the war, a six-year-old child heard all the explosions, screams of terror, and despair of the people who lived nearby. Unfortunately, one of the war days took the life of the closest and most beloved person — his mom. And then — and his stepfather, who was like a dad to him. Despite the pain and suffering experienced, a few months later Ilya became a son again — already for the Bezpalyi family of Mariia and Volodymyr. The young couple was not afraid to become parents to a child who already knows how painful it is to lose loved ones.

He lost his entire family in two days: how Illia became an orphan in front-line Mariupol

Six months before the war, a young couple from Slovyansk (Donetsk oblast of Ukraine) bought the house of their dreams. According to Mariia Bezpala, they worked for 5 years to have it, collecting every earned hryvnia. And such an ideal house was found. The couple began to make repairs, occasionally shooting memorable videos. Now the woman admits: it is very difficult and sad to understand that the video is really the only memory left of their dream home.

«We bought our dream house 6 months before the war. We started making repairs in it, changing the windows and the fence. We dreamed of giving birth and adopting a child, living happily in the house. But now we don't know if we will ever see it again… How much work has been put into this place,» Mariia says to «Vchasno» journalist.

At the same time, almost a year ago, Illia lived in Mariupol with his mother and stepfather. He loved to spend the night with tents on the seashore and swim in the sea with his parents. Now, when the boy sees bodies of water, he often calls them the sea — even sitting on the river bank. He explains: «I used to have the sea nearby, because I lived in Mariupol»… And his whole life was taken screwed up by the first explosions that rang out in the city on the morning of February 24.

The war took his mother first. She left home and, as it turned out later, died in the explosion on the bridge. This happened at the beginning of the war. Illia's stepfather went to look for a wife — and did not return. So the six-year-old child was left alone in the whole world. In a world of war, in which murderous Russian shells fly nearby every minute.

«Two days after we found out about Illia, we went to take him to our family»

The couple agreed on the adoption even before the start of the war — both Mariia and Volodymyr wanted to give love to the child, and biology did not play a big role for them.

«I will still have time to give birth to my child, there is no such thing as other people's children,» Mariia explains.

Mariia and Illia
For the first time, the Bezpalyis family saw Illia on photos posted by volunteers on social networks. At the same time, they decided that they had to give this boy a family. «On March 2, I posted on my page that my husband and I are ready to adopt a newborn child. At that time, we knew that according to the documents, we could not do this during the war, so we were ready to adopt a child without any documentation. And almost two months later, familiar volunteers told us about Illia. And two days later we went to Dnipro to take him home,» Mariia says.

Illia quickly got used to his new family, but he did not forget his mother. Mariia adds even the fact that he calls her mom, and Volodymyr — dad, does not mean that he does not miss his deceased relatives.

«When we picked up Illia, he told us that his mom died in the explosion on the bridge, and dad went to look for her and never came back. And the period of Illia’s adaptation to our family is still ongoing. Even if it is not visible, because he is smiling and happy, it shows up differently. Illia has a huge fear of losing us,» Mariia Bezpala says.

«He calls us mom and dad, but he will never forget his mother»

The woman says that she knew from childhood that she would take a child from the orphanage. It was one of her biggest dreams — to give a family without quarrels, and aggression, full of love and care, in which the child will grow mentally and psychologically healthy and feel safe.

@mari_bezpalaya_ Ответ пользователю @17_mashe4ka_10 ♬ Falling - Tvorchi

«I want to cry from happiness when I see how happy Illia is, when he can tell his parents everything that is on his mind, he appreciates everything that is given to him,» Mariia says.

Adoption is prohibited during wartime. Therefore, at first, Illia stayed in temporary residence in the Bezpalyis family, then the couple took out guardianship for four months. And after the victory, the boy will definitely be adopted.

«As for the last name he will have, it is up to Illia. But he wants to be Bezpalyo, just like us,» Mariia says.

@mari_bezpalaya_ Ответ пользователю @victorysecrets ♬ Swing Lynn - Harmless

Mariia adds: Illia is the kindest child she has ever met. A boy can run to them a hundred times a day, give a hug to her and Volodymyr and tell them how much he loves them. Such expressions of love are waiting for all their pets.

«Through volunteers — and into the hands of the British Prime Minister»: how Boris Johnson read Illia's letter

Boris Johnson with the Illia's letter

Illia became famous not only because he found a new family after the loss of his mother. It was his letter that was read by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The boy wrote about the war, his love for football, and his dream — that people do not die.

Volunteers submitted the letter to the British official along with an English translation. However, Boris Johnson read the letter written by the boy in the original language.

«Dear Boris Johnson! I want the war to end as soon as possible so that no more people die. I want to play football at my place in Mariupol. I wish all the children of the world had no war. Hello to all the children in Britain, thank you for helping us. We will win!

I have a cat named Frosya. I am sending you the flag of Ukraine, which I drew. I hug you tightly.

Illia, 6 years old," the boy wrote in a letter to the Prime Minister.

Lives saved by the Bezpalyis family: how lost Frosya returned after 8 months

Before the war, Mariia picked up a puppy on the street. Even after being bathed, the puppy did not interest the people in Slovyansk. This is how the Bezpalyis family got a four-legged addition — baby Frosya, who is now adored by Illia.

«I spent all the time with Frosya. Every day he got better and better, and then he got lost. We looked for him every day, but could not find him anywhere. Ads were posted, posts and stories were published, but no one saw him. Then — February 24, the first day of the war. We had to leave our hometown without Frosya.

And 8 months after Frosya's disappearance, people sent me his photo. Already an adult. Despite the hostilities, Volodymyr went to Slovyansk and took him home. I don't know where he was and what happened to him, what he went through (because he was kidnapped). But now he is with us and I definitely believe in miracles," Mariia says.

In addition, three cats live in the family. All of them come from the street but have become four-legged members of the family. Mariia says that when they took Illia home, they were worried whether he would make friends with their cat and dog. However, reality exceeded expectations — the boy not only fell in love with pets but also collected money to buy them goodies and new toys. Although sometimes he adds that such prices for cat toys are «robbery», she jokes.

First birthday together

On August 4, Illia celebrated his seventh birthday with his new mom and dad. And even though he received the most desirable thing — a globe and a microscope, to get to know everything that surrounds him down to the molecules — he admits: his biggest dream is that there would be no war. But he already knows how he would like to celebrate Ukraine's victory over the Russian occupants.

«Illia often says: „Let's dream, what will we do after the war?“. He says that he would like to swim in the sea, and to eat BBQ cooked on the fire. He would also like to eat cake with tea and invite friends to celebrate the victory together,» Mariia says.

Recently, Illia even asked his mom and dad to adopt a little sister from the orphanage.

«We said that first, we will have the baby, and then will definitely make it. And he said: «let's adopt first?». But then added: «only if you're ready to collect the documents again because it's very difficult,» Mariia says.

Now Ilya is learning Ukrainian with his mother and father because before the war he communicated in Russian. He dreams of coming to Slovyansk someday — Masha and Volodymyr often tell him how beautiful it is there. The boy will go to the first grade at the Kyiv school. And Mariia continues to volunteer and help abandoned and lost animals in Slovyansk, which are cared for by not indifferent people.