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Music brings a note of comfort amidst war in Ukraine

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Publication Year:
2022
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

A young boy shares his musical gifts with other displaced families at a theatre in western Ukraine.

“When I play the piano, I forget about the war,” says 9-year-old Maksym. He fled eastern Ukraine with his mother and brother as the conflict escalated, and has been sheltering in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine. 

Maksym gave an impromptu performance of the Ukrainian song Shchedryk to an audience of  dozens of women and children from all over Ukraine who have sought shelter in the auditorium of the Lviv Academic Theatre. The theatre is currently being used as a transit centre for refugees fleeing the conflict. 

UNICEF/Ukraine Piano 2
Copyright: UNICEF/Ukraine

Maksym says he was supposed to play his first concert this week, “but we had to flee because they were shelling.” Maksym packed up a few things to take with him – including some musical scores and a roll-up silicone keyboard – as the family fled.

“It’s both sad and very strange to be spending nights on the floor of the theatre, in this creative place,” says Maksym’s mother. The theatre has been a safe haven for them as they prepare to continue their journey toward Estonia. 

UNICEF/Ukraine Piano 3
Copyright: UNICEF/Ukraine

Music has provided Maksym with a way of escaping, even just briefly, from the horrors of the conflict around him. 

UNICEF/Ukraine Piano 5
Copyright: UNICEF/Ukraine

The family doesn’t know when they’ll be able to return home. Maksym says he misses his relatives and wishes he could hug his dad again. And he’s already dreaming of what he will do when the conflict is over, and there is peace. “I want to return to this theatre as a spectator to watch a play,” he says. 

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The conflict in Ukraine has sparked massive population displacement. By 3 March, around half a million children had already fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries, with the number of refugees continuing to grow. UNICEF is working with partners to reach vulnerable children and families with essential services. Read more about the situation and UNICEF’s response here

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