Children’s Festival (Collect4Ukraine)

On September 30th, we came together for a delightful and heartwarming Children's Festival for Ukrainian families who have had to relocate to the Netherlands due to russian aggression. The festival was organized by Collect4Ukraine, an Amsterdam-based volunteer initiative, and was joined by members of SPIRAL who volunteered during the festivities. Here is an overview of the Children’s Festival 2023!

Collect4Ukraine is a grassroots volunteer initiative based in Amsterdam, dedicated to raising funds for Ukrainian humanitarian and military efforts, increasing awareness of the ongoing war, and providing uplifting spaces for community-building for those who have fled the war in Ukraine.

The second edition of the festival was held in the beautiful garden of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy decorated with balloons, garlands, and blue-yellow flags, and welcomed approximately 300 participants. Over 150 of these were children whose families came from various parts of Amsterdam and its neighboring cities. For those facing financial difficulties, Collect4Ukraine covered the transportation expenses. The entire event, including this support, was made feasible through the collective's GoFundMe fundraiser, which raised €1,945.52 to organize the festival.

More than 40 volunteers, including dedicated SPIRAL members, played an instrumental role in making this event a reality. Together, we worked tirelessly to establish a secure and welcoming community space for Ukrainian families. The spirit of teamwork was thriving, with everyone readily assisting each other to ensure an unforgettable experience for the children. Our collective goal was to make this day exceptionally memorable, allow everyone to enjoy various workshops, and foster stronger connections among attendees. Moreover, we wanted to create a safe space of community-building for adults, too! Our guests could meet and talk to each other, and, hopefully, make new friends.

All workshops ran simultaneously, enabling children to approach the workshop freely and spend as much time as they required. Each workshop station was staffed by individuals who not only explained the techniques alongside additional volunteers who offered translation assistance and guided the children in their creative endeavors. Here is an overview of workshops:

  • The cookie decorating workshop provided an opportunity to craft your own colorful, dreamy dessert.
  • Jamming with Louis - where all participants could sing and play instruments alongside a talented singer and guitarist
  • The weaving workshop showcased how a complex technique could be made accessible and effective. Children filled wooden animal figures with fabric they had woven.
  • Customized tote bags creation with paints and imagination.
  • The drawing and painting workshops were hubs of creativity, where imagination reached its peak. Vibrant works were brought to life using colorful papers, markers, stickers, and paints.
  • Collaborative painting on a big canvas.
  • In the sculpture workshops, children delved into the realm of three-dimensional art, creating their own clay forms.
  • The music workshops allowed children to play instruments like the triangle or experiment with a microphone and mixer, producing a range of interesting, experimental, and surprising sounds. They could also explore synthesizers.
  • The face painting station allowed everyone to transform into their dream characters or animals.
  • The zine workshop, run by SPIRAL, was a space for children to combine collage, drawing, stamps, and stickers to create their own little books.

Additionally, we had activities like dancing with soft creatures by Day Collective, creating big bubbles, and various games. Among all the options, one could always dance in the middle as if no one was watching, with music blasting from the speakers all the time. 

What else was on our agenda? The secret ingredient that brought us all together - food. Thanks to the generosity of restaurants, bakeries, and individuals, we enjoyed delicious Georgian khinkali from Batoni Khinkali, cakes from REJ CAKE, falafels from Hotelschool the Hague, kasha bar by Eat with Ukraine, healthy snacks from Bites We Love, borscht made by Sophia Bulgakova, barbecue by Helena and friends, cinnamon buns and madeleines from Levain et le Vin, scones from Spirit, and many more culinary delights and generous donors!

On behalf of the organizers, we thank the Gerrit Rietveld Academy for lending us the necessary infrastructure, tables, chairs, speakers, and security personnel for opening the school early just for us!

The event was accompanied by a fundraising market organized by Anna Belih, with all proceeds going towards humanitarian aid and Ukrainian soldiers. The report may be found on Instagram under @collect4ukraine.

photos by Christopher Pugmire
graphics by Weronika Anna Marianna

text by Natalia Dembowska and Anna Greszta