In March of 2022, JR and his team walked across the border from Poland into Ukraine carrying a giant rolled-up tarp. A week earlier, Ukrainian photographer Artem Lurchenko had sent JR images of children who were crossing into Poland to seek refuge from the war in Ukraine. One of those children was five-year-old Valeriia, whose smiling image was printed on a 45-meter-long tarp.
JR joined by one hundred volunteers unfurled Valeriia’s image in Lviv, Ukraine on March 14th. With each person holding a section of the tarp, the community moved through the city lifting the young girl’s image up to the sky. She reminded those flying above that there are people below who need to be protected. Valeriia and the 7.5 million children of Ukraine are the future, and their images show what the country is fighting for.
A drone photograph of Valeriia supported by her fellow Ukrainians was featured as the March-April 2022 cover of Time magazine.
Leaving Ukraine, JR saw firsthand how difficult it was for women and children to get to safety due to the long queues at the border. In response, he launched two NFTs of Valeriia to raise funds for Ukrainians fleeing their country. All of the proceeds went to creating a network that brought food, warmth, and comfort to the thousands of refugees at border crossings.