On World Refugee Day UNICEF launched a book written by Ukrainian refugee children, living in Sofia

The art of storytelling helps to heal children’s emotional scars from the war

20 June 2023
A Ukrainian girl shows her drawing in the classroom of the Ukrainian Education Hub in Sofia
UNICEF/2023/ Lilia Yotova/
A Ukrainian teen girl shows her drawing of the bird in the classroom of the Ukrainian Education Hub in Sofia

SOFIA, Bulgaria, 20 June 2023. This Word Refugee Day,  the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) presented a book of fairy tales created by Ukrainian children who fled the war to Bulgaria. Through the power of art and storytelling, children shared their emotions, hopes, and aspirations for a better future.

The war in Ukraine has forced more than 2 million Ukrainian children to flee the country and displaced more than 1 million children inside Ukraine. Since the beginning of the war, over 160,000 Ukrainian refugees have applied for temporary protection in Bulgaria, including some 55,000 children.

The book presents a selection of stories written by children from Kyiv, Odesa and Dnipro, whose life has been changed dramatically because of the war. One year into displacement, many refugee children continue to bear the heavy emotional toll of the war with fears and anxieties having a long-term effect on their mental health.

“Our workshops became an emotional support for children who missed their families and friends,” explains Viktoria Filina, a Ukrainian teacher and book facilitator. “During our sessions, children were dreaming that the war is over and everyone can go home soon. Together we’ve created stories of peace  - on paper and in our souls”.

Available in Ukrainian, Bulgarian, and English, the book will be distributed through summer through the network of UNICEF partners and child-friendly spaces, as well as local libraries in communities and schools hosting Ukrainian children.

“Creativity and art have an incredible power to transform the world of a child, uplift their talents and even help heal emotional trauma. The universe of fairy tales creates a safe, nurturing environment where every child can feel loved and protected,” says Chistina de Bruin, UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria.

The book was prepared and published in the frame of the joint project of UNICEF and Open Doors Situation Center with funding provided by the United States Government. The authors now work on digital and audio versions of the book to extend its potential readership audience.

The event took place at the premises of the Ukrainian Education Hub in Sofia, one of 17  learn-and-play spaces, supported by UNICEF around the country. UNICEF in Bulgaria is working with partners like the Ukrainian Education Hub in Sofia to help children foster their emotional well-being, study and develop, integrate, find hope, and rebuild their childhood far from home.

In 2023, UNICEF supported over 5,000 Ukrainian children with access to education and provided learning materials to schools and youth organizations benefitting over 40,000 Ukrainian and Bulgarian children.  Since January 2023, UNICEF and partners assisted over 22,000 adults and children through Blue Dots, Child and Family Protection, and Support Hubs, including mental health and psychological support services.

Media contacts

Boryana Gidikova
Communication Officer
UNICEF Bulgaria
Tel: +359 893 52 52 40

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