Meet Sofiia, Anastasiia and Anastasiia
Sofiia Tereshchenko, Anastasiia Feskova and Anastasiia Demchenko from Ukraine were heartbroken when they watched videos of a 11-year-old Ukrainian child walking all alone to another country. At that time, they were all working together to develop a mobile application as part of a competition. Children’s lives continue to be in grave danger due to the Russian invasion.
Thousands of children were forced to flee from their country, away from their families and friends. The girls wanted to help refugee children who continue to live away from their country and homes. 43.3 million children have been displaced around the world and nearly 3.5 million are unaccompanied refugee children. The girls decided to use technology to safeguard the rights of refugee children. The 3 girls, who are refugees themselves and had never met each other in person, developed mobile applications that could become a companion to the refugee children who need support and guidance in the host countries. Even though they were forced to flee from their country and seek refuge in different parts of the world, they exhibited courage, resilience and compassion by developing Refee and Svity apps for the safety and well-being of refugee children.
Developed by child refugees, for child refugees
The 3 young girls started a non-profit ‘SVIT’ to build support for their App ‘Refee’ which helps young refugees aged 4 to 11 years in finding all the necessary information they need to get to safety. This App was developed to help refugee children access basic needs such as safety, food, shelter, and they did it by equipping the children with tools for basic communication. Refee App covers the first steps and communication needs of refugee children which are necessary when entering and settling into a new country. They then developed Svity App for children above 16 years of age. Refugee and international children find it difficult to integrate into host communities. This phase is especially difficult for children, teenagers and young adults as they are required to interact with other students at their schools, clubs, and universities. Svity App facilitates communication between refugee children and children from host communities in a safe and secure manner. It supports refugee children who have already settled into a new country and are looking for social and moral support. The girls wants to ensure that refugee children around the world have a safe space to interact with young people from the host countries and integrate seamlessly in those countries.
The efforts of the Ukrainian girls to ensure the safety and well-being of refugee children in the host countries must not go unnoticed. It is a wake-up call for host countries and the international community to undertake concrete steps by developing and implementing national and regional level policies for the overall well-being and local integration of refugee children. They intend to consistently advocate for the safety, well-being and integration of refugee children worldwide so that no child feels alone, unsafe and threatened in their new environment. They hope that these Apps can be used in the future by refugee children around the world.
After receiving the International Children’s Peace Prize, Anastasiia, Sofiia and Anastasiia, said: “The International Children’s Peace Prize highlights that the voices of child refugees will be heard across the world, giving us all further strength to fight for our rights and safety in the face of danger.”
Marc Dullaert, Founder and Chair of the KidsRights Foundation said: “Currently, nearly 10 million unaccompanied child refugees are trying to find safety. The amazing initiative of the young Ukrainian International Children’s Peace Prize winners provides an essential need, but it also exposes an embarrassing problem and urges governments to protect child refugees around the world.”