Book app connects Ukrainian fathers with children
STORY: This will be how 5-year-old Olivia listens to her dad read her a bedtime story - through an audiobook app.
Ruslan Mykchalchenko, who works for an NGO in Ukraine, was able to snatch some precious time with his family this week in the Netherlands while collecting an aid delivery.
But he will be returning home to Ukraine next week, leaving Olivia and his wife Alla behind.
Martial law in Ukraine prevents men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country.
[Alla]"It's even very good for me because before we fall asleep we listen to his voice and feel more safely and quiet, it's very important for every family.
[Ruslan]"She falls asleep faster, much faster. Five to ten minutes and she falls asleep.
[Alla] "It's true."
The app, "Better Time Stories", is funded by donations.
It offers five titles selected to help children process the trauma of war and is aimed at 3 to 7 years old.
The interactive books come with a QRcode.
When scanned or tapped, it opens an app with an audiobook version.
And allows families to send a link for fathers to record their own audio version.
For just under $15, packages with five bilingual books in Ukrainian and Dutch or German can be requested from the company website.
Since late September around 1,000 orders have been accepted in the Netherlands, 200 of them have already been delivered.
The app was created by Andriy Shmyhelskyy, a Ukrainian living in the Netherlands since 2014.
"Every children's story, it should help you to engage in story time and fairytales or fantasies and be distracted from the issues of the horrible situation which is happening right now in Ukraine."
According to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, 90 percent of the more than 7 million refugees from Ukraine are women and children.
In a recent UNHCR survey, more than three-quarters of all refugees questioned said they had suffered a family separation.
Yulia Bilan, a mother of two sons, is eight months pregnant and has been living as a single parent in The Hague since the war broke out.
Her husband remains in Bucha, near Kyiv.
Her boys Ilja, 10, and Pasha, 11, are a too old for picture books but were happy to receive their first Ukrainian books in months, which they are reading to their unborn sister.
Bilan said the books are helping her family process difficult emotions, as her son Ilja read out one of his favorite books.