A cry for help, a message of gratitude and a reflection on a shattered world: these are some of the images of war that pop up from the minds – and hands – of Ukrainian children.
“Now is not the environment in which we want them to be grown, but the reality,” – said Artem Bykovets.
After Russian troops invaded Ukraine more than a month ago, Artyom and his wife Nastya and their two children fled the capital, Kyiv. Along the way, 6-year-old Sonya drew what she left behind and what she heard about the war. One picture shows her domestic cat, the other – a Russian ship.
“She paints this picture when we talk a lot about a Russian ship,” her mother said.
Sony’s art has inspired parents to collect images of other Ukrainian children and post them online for all to see.
“We also know that children want to be respected,” said Nastya.
Arten added that the community can help them feel they are not alone.
An 11-year-old girl painted her mother. Other images show helicopters, bombs, rockets and dead soldiers.
Meanwhile, other children dream of peace – past and future.
“They are creating a strange world that helps them cope,” said Nastya.
“It’s like creating a parallel world, you know, in which you can feel safe,” Artyom added.
The couple, who are looking for safety in Ukrainian cities, say encouraging children to draw can also help parents like them.
“Parents also need some time to quietly cry somewhere in the corner,” – said Artem. “So by sending them to sit down somewhere and turn on their imagination and put it down on paper, give parents another chance to recharge.”
The couple hopes that these works will show the world the strength and suffering of their country.
“We hope that the people who look at these photos will feel sympathy to support the children, to support Ukraine,” Nastya said.
After all, when the war is over, they say, the children of Ukraine will rebuild their country.