25 August 2023
An exhibition of war stories and artwork from children in Ukraine recently opened in the Netherlands.
The event is being held in Amsterdam, where Anne Frank wrote her famous World War II diaries as she hid her family from Nazi occupiers.
The exhibition, called "War Diaries," shows the experiences of children caught in the war in Ukraine. The conflict began when Russian forces invaded the country in February 2022.
Khrystyna Khranovska developed the idea for the show. She said it is meant to describe the pains of war "through the children's eyes." Khranovska added, "It strikes into the very heart of every adult to be aware of the suffering and grief that the Russian war has brought our children."
The exhibition includes notes like those written by Anne Frank in the Amsterdam home where she hid with her family from the Nazis during World War II. The show shares the stories Ukrainian children have faced during the war, as told in writings, photos and video.
Among those taking part was Mykola Kostenko. The boy, who is now 15, spent 21 days surrounded by Russian forces in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. Kostenko created drawings with pen and paper torn from notebooks. One of them showed the small basement where he and his family sheltered from Russian forces before they fled the city.
Kostenko told the Associated Press, "I put my soul into all of these pictures because this is what I lived through in Mariupol. What I saw, what I heard. So, this is my experience, and this is my hope."
Katya Taylor is a curator for the exhibition, meaning she helps collect the materials included in the show. She said she thinks the diaries and artwork are useful tools for helping the children deal with the harmful effects of war.
Kostenko said drawing and painting helped calm him and provided a healing effect. "It also was an instrument to save the emotions that I lived through. For me to remember them in the future because it's important," he added.
Ukrainian officials have estimated that more than 500 children have been killed during the war. In addition, the United Nations children's agency, UNICEF, estimates about 1.5 million Ukrainian children are at risk of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems.
The youngest diarist was 10-year-old Yehor Kravtsov, who also lived in Mariupol. In writing appearing next to the diary, he describes his dream of becoming a builder. But he said his experience living through the war changed his mind.
Kravtsov wrote, "When we got out from the basement during the occupation ... I was very hungry, I decided to become a chef to feed the whole world."
I'm Bryan Lynn.
The Associated Press reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
exhibition – n. an event at which objects such as paintings are shown to the public
diary – n. a book containing information about meetings and other things to remember
Nazi –adj. related to the National Socialist German Workers' Party which ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945
grief – n. very great sadness, especially at the death of someone
soul – n. the spiritual part of a person which is not material and is believed by many to be eternal
basement – n. the area in a house that is below ground
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – n. a mental condition in which a person suffers severe nervousness and depression after a very frightening or shocking experience