Eight-year-old Roman Oleksiv has returned to school in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, another step in his remarkable recovery from severe burns and shrapnel on his head suffered in a Russian missile attack last July, Reuters reports.
Roman was waiting to see a doctor with his mother when a cruise missile hit the city of Vinnytsia, in one of the deadliest attacks since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in early 2022.
His mother was among the 28 killed, while Roman suffered shrapnel wounds, a broken arm and burns on 45 percent of his body.
After the doctors in Lviv stabilized him, he was sent to a specialized burn unit in Dresden, Germany, where he spent almost a year undergoing more than 30 operations.
He is now back in Lviv, and while he has to regularly return to Dresden for treatment, he has begun to readjust to everyday life with the help of his father, Jaroslav.
"We didn't know if he would be able to walk, move his arm or his fingers," Jaroslav Reuters said at the school, his arm around Roman's shoulder. He explained that his son is not yet able to speak to the media.
"But thanks to their (medical) work, Romano's work, his superhuman efforts... all that opened the door for us to return to dancing, playing musical instruments," Jaroslav said.
The novel is immediately recognizable among the children in the school's brightly colored corridors. He wears blue compression wraps for burns on his head, face and hands.
In a great hall nearby, young contestants in bow ties and dresses paired up for a ballroom dance competition.
Roman and his partner performed the tango and charleston, and were warmly cheered as they stepped forward to receive their certificates and medals.
Later, Roman performed a solo on the bayan, a version of the accordion.
"We returned to dance and bajan. He returned to school, continuing his education," Jaroslav said.
"He's in third grade now. We're trying our best to get better."
Jaroslav said that Roman will have another year of treatment to fully recover, including surgery, hair transplants and ear corrections.
"We will deal with this step by step and everything will be fine," Jaroslav said.
He prefers not to dwell too much on the past.
"He is a fantastic boy. I don't think the question is what he went through, but how he will continue... I hope he will continue with the same strength as now to grow, to develop," Jaroslav said.