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Children of the Bulgarian community in the village of Krynychne are calling for peace

"Let's keep peace like a flower, let’s not hate but love each other," the group "Karamelki" sing

Photo: Bulgarian-Ukrainian Center "Media"

Has the Earth become too tiny

Or the children too many

People are the only ones able to hate

And keep away from each other

And separate by faith and color...

Children are wiser than adults. One should listen to their words as their hearts are not hardened. If the song of children could be heard every minute, day after day, in every corner of this earth, wisdom would banish folly and mercy would melt the frozen feelings.

Ukraine's children send their message for peace through art. They sing, draw, write poems and believe that just like the melodies, images, and words that come from their hearts, the day will also come when windows would not be shattered by explosions and only the sun rays would enter the room uninvited.

"Our neighboring town was bombed,” says Ivana Demirova, an ethnic Bulgarian, a vocal teacher at the Bulgarian-Ukrainian center "Media" in the village of Krynychne, Bolhrad region. “We hope very much that our children would not have to experience this. We try to make them happy, to divert their attention to the good things, to the songs. That's why we sing and study even in the bomb shelter. We cannot stop the activities as we do not know how much longer this war would last. We are trying to move forward.”

Ivana Demirova keeps her head up and by personal example tries to bring a little calmness to the chaotic world in which her graduates have been trying to find a safe path for over a year and a half. In Sofia, we meet her little student Varya - cheerful and smiling, winner of the grand prize in the song contest of the Executive Agency for Bulgarians Abroad.

"Our children are very talented", Ivana Demirova says proudly and five-year-old Varvara Trandafilova starts singing:

Let's all join hands to play rachenitsa dance

One-two, one-two-three stomp your feet...

"I like it here in Bulgaria," the little girl says. “In the Bulgarian school we study about the holidays. There are many of them - Baba Marta, Christmas, the Day of Cyril and Methodius. When I return to Ukraine, I will tell people that the forests here are beautiful. We don't have such forests, but we have sea. I hope to come to Bulgaria again next year."

Varya is just one of the children who visit the Bulgarian-Ukrainian Center “Media” every Saturday. There, the little singers from the group "Karamelki", who send a touching appeal for stopping the war, study the vocal art. "The children keep coming and the mothers are waiting for them," Ivana Demirova says:

"We tell them that they must believe in the good, because if children are under endless stress, they will not be able to work, create, develop. We should reassure them and give them confidence, not make their situation even worse. We tell them that there are things they should not see at all. We also tell them that peace will surely come, that we must all hope that sooner or later we will achieve victory and then good days will come.

Until then, the war will continue to inflict wounds. Some wounds on the body will heal, but how can the invisible wounds to the soul be treated?

"I don't know, I really don't know,” Ivana Demirova says. “They are still children. They see what is happening, but they do not fully feel and understand it. It would be very hard, very hard. This won't just go away. I myself concentrate on the children. The group sings the song ‘Children of the Earth’ so that they believe that there will be victory, peace and a peaceful life."

A year ago - a few months after the outbreak of war, tenth grader Adelina Hristova from the community of Bessarabian Bulgarians in Bolgrad told Radio Bulgaria:

"I am very sorry for my mother Ukraine. Every moment for us could be our last. We don't know what is ahead of us, so we just keep living - as much as life gives us, we enjoy it."

A year later, the wishes for the children of Ukraine are still the same.

"We want our children to have a happy childhood and a happy future and together with our colleagues we do everything that depends on us,” Ivana Demirova says. “We want them to remember their childhood years with some positive things because what happens today will stay with them for the rest of their lives. We want them to sing, to rejoice, to dance, to smile, but also to develop their potential in these very difficult days.”

And a five-year-old girl dreams of returning to Bulgaria next year to sing a new song.

Lets hold hands

Lets keep peace like a flower

Lets give a stranger smile

Lets love and not hate each other

Lets give, not always take

We are all children of the Earth, awake

English version: Al. Markov

Photos: Bulgarian-Ukrainian Center "Media"

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