The names of 6 dead children were written on a Ukrainian national flag by a teacher at one of Uman’s schools, around the time of their funerals. It is one of many small memorials to the small lives that the city lost in the middle of the night.
The Uman Secondary School is located just a block from the residential building that was targeted by Russian missiles in April. The damaged structure, which was once home to dozens of families, could be seen from classroom windows if not for a row of trees obstructing the view.
“When visitors come to our school, we invite them to sign this special flag. Our community lost six young lives on April 28. They were our students, our future. This flag is simple but it means a lot to our school. We hope to do more to honor their memory,” said the school’s administrator.
To a military that bombed hospitals in Syria, and tried to freeze Ukrainians from their homes over the winter, no target is off-limits from their brutality. Schools have every reason to take extra precautions as a result.
The delegation from Milwaukee toured the school during its visit to the central Ukrainian city. Milwaukee Independent was embedded with members of the humanitarian nonprofit Friends of Be an Angel, and was shown updates made to the educational institution since the April missile strike killed 23 people less than 100 yards away.
The basement area had been renovated into a bomb shelter for students, and expanded. Uman had experienced relative peace in the first year of the war. Being located far from strategic areas, it had not experienced aerial attacks like so many other cities. Uman’s geographic position had also transformed it into a transit hub for processing displaced people.
But any sense of safety was shattered in the middle of the night, as Russia’s campaign of terror set the area around the secondary school on fire just weeks ago. Students have not needed to use the bunkers for shelter since that fateful night, but the spaces are kept ready for the next time they are needed.
While on summer break from classes, the Uman Secondary School provides extracurricular programs for children. Most involve sports like Korean Taekwon-Do.
On July 13, Uman’s Sister City of Davis, California held an event to raise funds for students in Uman who have had a parent killed, captured, or injured in the war.
“Why do the skies cry bombs instead of raindrops?” – literal translation of a question written on a bulletin board by a student in Uman
Series: Return to Ukraine
- Return to Ukraine: A trauma loop of travel from Milwaukee to a country still at war a year later
- From Weddings to War: How Kostiantyn and Vlada Liberov photograph Ukraine's daily horrors
- Being Friends of Angels: The Milwaukee nonprofit saving lives and offering hope in Ukraine
- Mayors of Milwaukee and Irpin expand Sister City cooperation after visit by nonprofit delegation
- Interview with Tom Barrett: U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg reflects on forging ties with Irpin
- Wisconsin Ukrainians host annual fundraising picnic to support homeland on 500th day of war
- Advanced Wireless to donate 840 access points to rebuild Irpin's citywide Wi-Fi network
- Children of Irpin begin planning mural for Mitchell Airport to showcase Sister City friendship
- Irpin is not forgotten: Residents thank Milwaukee Independent for reporting on their "Hero City"
- Milwaukee photojournalist on assignment in Kyiv during July 2 Russian drone strike targeting civilians
- Russian cruise missile attack kills residents far from front lines in Western Ukraine city of Lviv
- Ukraine arrests man accused of directing Russian ballistic missile strike on Kramatorsk pizza parlor
- Milwaukee offers Ukrainian refugee family life-saving treatment for son's genetic condition
- Nikita Pirnach: Irpin student hopes to help his country after finishing education in Milwaukee
- Sick children wait for overseas medical treatments as a new generation is born in Ukraine during war
- Iryna Suslova: The superwoman saving Ukrainian children abducted by Russia
- How a group of Ukrainian mothers, wives, and daughters are distributing vital humanitarian aid
- Freeing Freddie: Educational program aims to reduce PTSD for Ukraine's war-weary children
- The trauma of living: When being killed is the preferred choice to being disfigured from battle
- President Zelenskyy offers gratitude and awards to wounded soldiers while visiting Lviv Hospital
- Former Vice President Mike Pence visits Irpin during unannounced campaign trip to Kyiv
- Military Hospitals provide vital care for Ukrainian soldiers in need of hope and healing
- Combat surgeons pioneer advances in maxillofacial reconstruction of Ukraine's injured heroes
- Milwaukee donors cover cost of reconstructive surgery for American volunteer wounded in battle
- In their own words: Listening to the Voices of Children talk about their experiences from war
- Traumatized by War: Children of Ukraine carry on after losing parents, homes, and innocence
- Widespread Torture: U.N. report documents Russia's systematic executions of Ukrainian civilians
- Wisconsin volunteers sort and pack donated medical supplies for use in Ukraine's hospitals
- Lviv warehouse serves as vital link in medical supply chain from Milwaukee to frontlines
- Aid from Milwaukee is providing internally displaced people in Ukraine with food and clothing
- Iryna Pletnyova: How the city of Uman transformed into a hub for refugees fleeing war
- Bombs in the night: Why children in Uman are still traumatized by Russia's missile attack
- School Bunkers: When a national flag becomes a memorial to dead Ukrainian students
- Hasidic life in Uman: A journey across Ukraine to the Tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
- Tetiana Storozhko: Being a witness to the history of Roma culture in Ukraine
- Remembering Oskar Schindler: A photojournalist’s diary from the streets of Jewish Kraków
Milwaukee Independent has reported on Russia’s brutal full-scale invasion of Ukraine since it began on February 24, 2022. In May of 2022, Milwaukee Independent was the first news organization from Wisconsin to report from Milwaukee’s Sister City of Irpin after its liberation. That work has since been recognized with several awards for journalistic excellence. Between late June and early July of 2023, Milwaukee Independent staff returned to Ukraine for a second assignment to report on war after almost a year. The editorial team was embedded with a Milwaukee-based nonprofit, Friends of Be an Angel, on a humanitarian aid mission across Ukraine. For several weeks, Milwaukee Independent documented the delivery of medical supplies to military and civilian hospitals, and was a witness to historic events of the war as they unfolded.