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Closed 21/12/2022
Play Action International

Sofia Shkidchenko - Giving Refugee Children a Voice

Sofia Shkidchenko, a 16 year old singer, is Play Action International's Ambassador and due to her own experience of having to flee her home in Ukraine, is committed to using her voice to raise awareness of refugee children everywhere.
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Closed on 21/12/2022
RCN 1172875

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More than half of Ukraine's children are now displaced from home. According to UNICEF, of the country's 7.5 million children, 4.5 million Ukrainian children have been forced to leave their homes, friends, families, and lives behind. And this is just the tip of the iceberg... at the end of 2021, it was estimated that 36.5 million children had been displaced as consequence of conflict and violence and all indicators show that this number will continue to rise.

What refugee children experience can cause lasting psychosocial and emotional damage. Imagine hiding and wondering if the next bomb that will explode will kill you... Or witnessing violence, torture or even the loss of close family and friends... Imagine being separated from your parents, either by accident or because your parents hope that by travelling alone, you will have a better chance of gaining refugee status and the safety they crave for you. And of course, once given refuge, a whole new set of challenges and fears kick in as you try to integrate into a country. Refugee children suffer. In silence. But we can give them a voice!

Sofia's Story

At just 16 years of age, Sofia Shkidchenko has already been mastering her vocal skills for over 10 years as she seeks to become a professional singer. Sofia has participated in countless concerts, festivals and competitions and been in Ukrainian TV shows like Ukraine's Got Talent, Voice Kids, Little Big Shots and Junior Eurovision. She has also performed on BBC Radio 2's The Zoe Ball Show, premiering her collaboration with Basement Jaxx - Yodel Song. Life in Kyiv for Sofia was good - going to school, singing, playing with her dog and friends... But then, on the 24th of February, as Russia invaded, the world of every Ukrainian was flipped upside down. Dreams came crashing down as quickly as the building; families were separated, loved ones lost.

Like millions of other Ukrainian children, I was forced to flee my home and eventually my country with my mum - separated from our family and friends. From being a teenager with the dream of becoming a singer, I have had to adapt and learn how to live as a refugee. A refugee? I still cant believe this is happening. I should be at home, going to school, playing with my friends and singing.

Sofia and her mother first fled to Poland and then to Spain where they were warmly welcomed and cared for by a host family. Since then they have travelled to America, where through the support of fans, Sofia was able to participate in two summer scholarships she was awarded at prestigious music colleges. At the end of August, Sofia and her mum will travel back to Spain from where they then hope to return to Ukraine.

This kindness of strangers is what helps my mother, and I get out of bed every morning. But like millions of Ukrainians, I want to go home. I want to use my music to raise awareness of how wars like these affect children. I want to help rebuild my country and our lives as soon as possible.

As Play Action International's Ambassador, Sofia is determined to use her voice to raise awareness of not only the the plight of Ukrainian refugee children but the millions of displaced children across the world. Sofia has recorded a cover of 'Pray for Ukraine' to ensure the world does not switch off from the continued atrocities inflicted on her homeland and to raise vital funds for Play Action International to support the children affected by the war.

The current campaign Sofia and Play Action International are championing is the Ukraine Play Box Appeal. Many of the families who escaped Ukraine packed only their most essential things, some forgetting the toys and other items belonging to their children. Those children who managed to escape with their most precious item embrace it as if their life is inside their favourite toy, book, or object.

Play time is healing time! Which is why the Ukraine Play Box Appeal aims to provide toys and play materials to over 25,000 Ukrainian refugee children over the next 3 months. A donation of £30 will provide a box of toys and play materials for a child. £250 will provide a Mega Play Box that up to 50 children can enjoy at emergency shelters across Europe. Any and every donation you can make will make a massive difference in the simplest but most profound way for children. And please remember to share this appeal and Sofia's Pray for Ukraine song widely - the more people who hear her voice the more refugee children we can bring a little healing to. Thank you x

A huge thanks to our Ukraine Play Box Appeal major partners - Yodel, The Creation Station, Gamely Games and Start Rite Shoes - without you we couldn't make this magic happen!

About the charity

Play Action International works across the world to help refugee s and other vulnerable children to learn, develop and heal through the power of play.

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