• The teacher initially evacuated an orphanage of kids and some women to Zaporizhia
  • He moved 400 kids and elderly people, some of whom are disabled, to a bomb shelter
  • Getting supplies has proven a challenge as people are attacking for food, he says

A 33-year-old teacher in Ukraine refuses to leave his students behind as they remain trapped in the southeastern city of Mariupol, even if it costs him his life.

Oleksiya Kayokhtin, who taught history in the city for a decade, said he was offered the option to escape the town but chose to stay back with the children, many of whom are feeling helpless and frightened as Russia's war on Ukraine continues.

"I stay in town no matter what. I said I won't leave my children even if I'm killed," Kayokhtin told ABC News as he stood next to a mobile connection tower; there is currently no other way to establish a cellphone connection in Mariupol.

Civilians are trapped in the shambled city, where food and water are scarce and dead bodies lie on the streets. They have gone through “two days of hell” as Russians attacked “every 30 minutes,” Mariupol mayor Vadym Boychenko said, according to Reuters.

"The children are frightened, very frightened… They often cry. This morning during another airstrike they burst out crying again," Kayokhtin said, as reported by ABC News.

"Those who are left without parents ask, 'Where's mom, where's dad?' The adults say that it will end soon, that we have to stay here for a moment,” the teacher continued. “We don't pressure the kids asking where their parents are, maybe they ran out and never returned … We don't ask them a lot of questions not to cause a trauma.”

One of the latest attacks on the city left a children's hospital and maternity ward in the city destroyed Wednesday afternoon, Ukrainian officials reportedly said.

Amidst all the chaos, the history teacher is staying put to help the children who were not evacuated. He is now in a shelter with around 400 children, about 100 of whom are disabled and in wheelchairs, according to the Black Chronicle.

"When I heard Putin's announcement of war on February 24, we evacuated a whole orphanage to Zaporizhia -- 130 kids and two buses of women and kids," Kayokhtin told ABC News.

Instead of taking his friends’ advice to leave the city earlier, Kayokhtin stayed behind and found ways to help the children trapped in the city. A local businessman with “a big bomb shelter” offered to help Kayokhtin and his students following which they relocated to the shelter, along with the disabled people and senior citizens.

When he finds children trapped under debris or stranded on the streets after shelling, Kayokhtin takes them back to the shelter with him.

Two other volunteers — a medical worker and a driver — are helping Kayokhtin take care of those in the shelter. However, getting food and supplies has become immensely difficult as shops are being looted and prices have escalated.

"We try to buy [food] under the table, but you can be even killed for food in the streets. People take water from the river so it's OK for now, but if someone notices that you have food … this is horror, you will be attacked," he added.

As Kayokhtin hopes for the war to end, he told the outlet, "I hope I will stay in my native land and continue teaching."

Video footage from the National Police of Ukraine on March 9 at the children's hospital in Mariupol, an attack that sparked international outrage
Video footage from the National Police of Ukraine on March 9 at the children's hospital in Mariupol, an attack that sparked international outrage National Police of Ukraine via AFP / Handout