Ukraine war: Teenager returns to ruined school in prom dress she never got to wear

·2-min read

Among the ruins of her school destroyed in Ukraine's war, a teenager has been pictured in the ballgown which she would have worn for her prom ceremony.

Anna Episheva, from Toronto, Canada, posted the photo of her 16-year-old niece, who she says studied at School 134 in Kharkiv before the country was invaded by Russia.

The student, called Valerie, is said to have been looking forward to the day they would graduate from school, and had been preparing with her friends for the event.

Ms Episheva's Facebook account quotes Valerie as saying: "... I'm 16 years old... Studied at school 134 in Kharkiv... had a lot of friends from school, we were like one big family...

"With the girls we were choosing dresses and were excited that everyone would be very beautiful on the prom day. But to us came 'Rysskiy World' and ruined all our plans that we so dreamed of! "

In a caption under the photo posted on Monday, Ms Episheva says: "My niece was supposed to graduate this year from her high school. She and her friends planned the graduation event, bought dresses, and were looking forward to the big day...

"Then the Russians came. Her school was directly hit and destroyed on Feb 27th, 2022.

"Today she came back to what is left of her school and her plans for the graduation. Thank you, my dear Valerie, for being strong and brave, so proud of you and love you so much. Glory to Ukraine!"

While asking people to highlight the damage done to Kharkiv and the school, she says the photo was taken and supplied by Valerie's mother, who she doesn't name.

Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city, was attacked in the early days of the war as it was close to the Russian border.

It came under intense fire during the early months but was never taken by Russian forces and, according to the UK Ministry of Defence, a Ukraine counter attack pushed back so that Russian units had largely withdrawn by mid-May.

However, while it is calmer than it was between February and April, air and missile strikes have continued so that, on Tuesday, one person was killed and three more wounded, local mayor Ihor Terekhov said on television.

Mr Terekhov said Russia "does not leave Kharkiv alone and constantly keeps people in fear".