To Defenders of Freedom

Photo of injured Olena shocked the world in February 2022. She is conducting art classes for Ukrainian children now

The photo of Olena Kurylo, the choreography teacher from Chuhuiv, the Kharkiv region, was taken on the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On February 24, 2022, a Russian missile hit the apartment building where a 52-year-old teacher lived.

The window fragments wounded her face severely. Olena partly lost her eyesight. In March, she moved to Poland, where she underwent several surgeries, including on her eyes. 

In Poland, the woman met with the author of her photo that shocked the world. It is a photojournalist Wolfgang Schwan from the Turkish news agency Anadolu. 

Photo: Omar Marques / Anadolu Images

The photo was taken in front of Olena’s house when medics put a bandage on her head. It became one of the first published photos from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Among others, it exposed the horrors of the armed invasion, while Russia continued denying that civilians and civilian objects were under attack.

Photo: Wolfgang Schwan

As of November 2022, Olena Kurylo is still recovering from the injury. Another operation awaited Olena in London and, according to doctors, there is a 50 percent chance that her sight will be restored.

Now Olena supports Ukrainians abroad. She conducts art classes for Ukrainian children in Poland and participates in a fundraising campaign for Ukrainians in need.

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