#Ubreakable Yana and her mother Nataliia from Kramatorsk
After nearly two months of a full-scale Russian invasion, Kramatorsk, once a thriving city in Donetsk Oblast, had transformed into a stronghold against Russian aggression. Natalia and her twins, Yana and Yaroslav went to the railway station trying to flee their hometown during the initial stages of the Russian invasion. She planned to relocate her kids to her family in Ivano-Frankivsk in the western part of the country. Her partner had been drafted into military service, while the children's father died on the battlefield.
Yaroslav was sitting watching their luggage while his mother and sister were on the station platform when the russian Tochka-U missile struck at around 10:30 am.
A devastating russian missile strike at the railway station took the lives of 61 people and left 121 injured, where nearly thousands of people had gathered in hopes of escaping the area on evacuation trains.
In the chaos that followed, neither Nataliia nor Yana could recall the next moments. Yana awoke in pain, realizing that she no longer can stand up. "I looked at my feet, and there were no feet. I started to cry," she said. A ruthless russian attack left Yana without both legs, and her mother Nataliia had lost her left foot. Yaroslav, Yana's twin brother, survived by chance, having stayed behind to watch their bags inside the station.
April to May 2022,
Nataliya and Yana were evacuated to Dnipro before being transferred to a Lviv hospital, where they received urgent medical care. In Lviv Ukraine House started preparation for the family transfer to US for further treatment and rehabilitaion.
Washington, DC, USA
The Stepanenko family was the first family selected for assistance by the Ukraine House team. On their way to the US, the Stepanenko family stopped in Warsaw, Poland, to meet their doctor, Peter Harsh. Together, they took a flight to Washington DC, where the Ambassador of Ukraine in the US Oksana Markarova, Ukraine House team, and the Embassy of Ukraine in the US warmly welcomed them and promised an unforgettable and inspiring rehabilitation journey in the United States.
July 2022 to August 2023
San-Diego, CA, USA
The Stepanenko family landed at San Diego Airport, where they would receive crucial rehabilitation support. Just a few days later, Natalia and her daughter took their first steps with their new prostheses. Over the year, they recovered from the trauma, learning to navigate life with their new legs. Yana learned to ride a bicycle and even run while the family established deep connections within the local community, discovering new friends and hobbies.
The Stepanenko family chose to make Lviv their home. Upon their return to Ukraine, Yana participated in the Unbreakable Half Marathon alongside veterans who had lost their limbs. With determination, she ran 70 meters on her running prosthesis.
"I want to support children who've lost their limbs and can't run. I want them to see me, so they can say, 'I can do this too!' I'll run," Yana declared.
Recently, Yana assumed a special role as an ambassador for the Unbroken National Rehabilitation Center in Lviv, Ukraine. She plays a vital role in fundraising for essential equipment for the center and inspires Ukrainian children who have lost their limbs to lead fulfilling lives, just as she learned during her time in the United States.