Among flipped cars, burned out buildings, and dead bodies in the streets, a tiny 6-year-old boy in a blue jacket stood at the gravesite of his mother in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.
"His name is Vlad," AP photojournalist Rodrigo Abd told TODAY Parents of the young boy. "He was delivering some juice on top of the tomb of his mother." Abd told TODAY that Vlad’s mother, Maryna Tanyuk, died in a basement as Russians invaded. She was 33.“We were taking pictures of a woman that lost her husband and one neighbor said ‘Come here, I will show you the tomb of a woman’,” Abd said, describing how he met the child.
“I took that picture that day of Vlad basically interacting with the tomb of his mother and playing around and looking at us like ... he was also in shock that something (like war) erupted in his neighborhood.”
Warning: The embedded post contains sensitive material that may be graphic or violent.
The Argentinian photographer, who was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for work covering the Syrian civil war, said he was able to chat with Vlad’s father, Ivan, who explained that Maryna died of stress and starvation from the ongoing war.
“The Russians occupied their neighborhood with tanks,” Abd told TODAY Parents of the family, who sought shelter in a basement. “She was so frightened being bombed all the time.”
After sharing the photo, Abd started getting requests from around the world for ways to help the family.
"What was good about that story ... a lot of people around the globe started to send emails wanting to help Vlad and the family," Abd said, adding that a GoFundMe account has been created to aid Vlad and Ivan.
Abd, who has been on assignment in Ukraine for nearly a month, said his job as a photojournalist is "to transmit the emotion, the pain and the struggle that people are living in another place."
"I am seeing destroyed families, villages. I saw lots of dead people in the last two weeks, lots of destruction," Abd said of covering daily life in Kyiv and its outskirts. "Cities that are almost empty with very lonely, few people. The economy is completely stopped."
Abd says that photojournalism helps create "documentation for the future" even when it involves emotionally draining work.
"What we saw in the last weeks was the destruction after the Russians left," Abd said. "The mass graves, the morgues .. and it’s a tragedy. Dozens of people dead in the streets. People that died inside their houses. People that were killed by Russians next to the towns. That is difficult, because you need to be part of complicated, dramatic scenes. We do it because we think it is important and this is a good example."
The U.N. Refugee Agency estimates 4.6 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia began invading on February 24.