On the night of May 31, 2016, Alexander Bekasov from Odessa, Ukraine, was on his way home after finishing a night shift when he saw a lone figure at the side of the road.
To see anyone on the street at 4 a.m. was strange enough, but when he took a closer look, he couldn’t believe his eyes. He quickly pulled over and got out of his car.
The person Alexander saw was a young boy who appeared to be about three years old. Alexander tried to talk to him, asking him where he lived and why he was out at such a late hour. But the boy didn’t answer. Alexander could tell that something wasn’t right with the boy, so he approached him to get a better look. The sight that met his eyes as he peered through the dark took his breath away.
The boy was covered with blood and scratches.
His head had been bandaged with an old cloth that was already soaked with blood. Alexander immediately called the police, but even they couldn’t get any information from the mysterious boy.
The only thing he could say was “Vova,” the short form for Vladimir, which they assumed was his name.
Vova was brought to the hospital where doctors quickly determined that he was suffering from exhaustion and mild hypothermia. But the brave little boy didn’t shed a tear, which led doctors to conclude that he was probably used to this kind of suffering.
The wounds on his head were caused by a knife — someone had brutally cut off a large chunk of his skin.
Doctors continually tried to get the boy to talk, but he couldn’t seem to remember anything, not even his mother’s name. It was clear that Vova had grown up in a family — he had obviously learned to do some basic things — but he had no memories of his life before that fateful night.
Vova’s story quickly spread through Ukraine. Thousands of people sent donations to help pay for his medical treatment. They also sent him toys, diapers, and food. Many people started their own investigations to help find out where the little boy had come from. Eventually his story was broadcast on Ukrainian and Russian state television.