VIRAL 13-YEAR-OLD WOODWORK STAR ANNOUNCES NEW FUNDRAISER AFTER MEETING UKRAINIAN REFUGEE CHILDREN IN POLAND
A 13-year-old boy from Cumbria, who last year raised over £250,000 for Ukrainian children after thousands entered a raffle to win his handmade wooden bowl, has launched a second fundraiser for Save the Children after travelling to Poland to meet Ukrainian refugees benefitting from his initial donation.
Gabriel Clark shot to viral fame last April after a quarter of a million people responded to a plea from his dad for people to follow his son’s woodwork Instagram account. Spurred on by support from a raft of celebrities including Stephen Fry and JK Rowling, Gabriel decided to put his newfound fame to good use and raffled off his Bowl for Ukraine to raise funds for Save the Children.
Now, a year later, the young woodwork star has visited a Ukrainian school in Warsaw funded by the charity, to learn more about the impact of his fundraising.
The school supports over 450 children from Ukraine aged 6-17 to study the Ukrainian curriculum in their native language, while providing Polish language lessons and helping children integrate into Poland.
The children painted wooden eggs together, a popular Ukrainian Easter tradition, and played games, as well as discussing their hobbies and the things they had in common.
Following his visit, Gabriel announced he would be carving a new bowl, called The Hope bowl, with the aim of raising funds for the charity’s Emergency Fund, which supports children in crisis all around the world.
Gabriel said: “Being at the school in Poland and seeing how much the funds raised last year have helped the Ukrainian children there, I just knew I had to do another fundraiser.
“The children at the school were so happy and welcoming to me and they had so many fun games to play. I wish my school was more like it! Meeting the children there was amazing, but also devastating. We had so much in common, but our circumstances are so different.
“I spoke to one ten-year-old boy who plays the drums, like I do, and he also does Taekwondo, which I love. It amazed me because it’s such an unusual sport. It just reminded me that these children are just like any other child, but they’ve been through so much. If there’s any way of helping them and other children who need it, then I think we all should.”
Gabriel’s Hope Bowl took 10 hours to make and includes three types of wood -ash, sapele and zebrano - to represent the three key focuses of Save the Children’s work around the world – education, food and medicine.
11-year-old Karina* is one of the many children who attends the Ukrainian school in Warsaw visited by Gabriel. As a thank you to Gabriel for the money he raised last year, she presented him with a painting in traditional Ukrainian colours with the words “be brave like Ukraine” emblazoned on the front.
Karina* grew up in Kyiv but fled with her mum and 15-year-old brother when the conflict escalated in March 2022. She describes herself as positive and hard-working and dreams of being an art teacher. But although she enjoys attending the school in Warsaw, for her nothing compares to home. “This is not my home”, she says. “I will not live in Poland forever because I want to go back to my city, my real home. I know that one day I will be in Kyiv again and live many happy years there.”
Gabriel’s new Hope Bowl will raise money for Save the Children’s Emergency Fund. Having already amassed donations of over £6,000, the funds will go towards helping children in crisis all around the world, from those who have fled Ukraine to those suffering from hunger and malnutrition in East Africa.
Lisa Aubrey, Head of Regional Fundraising and Engagement at Save the Children, said:
“We are incredibly grateful for Gabriel’s continued support and everyone who has so far entered the draw for his latest wooden masterpiece. Our ambition to make the world a better place for children simply couldn't happen without the efforts of young people like Gabriel. I hope his incredible feat inspires other children to use their passions and imaginations to raise money, whether it’s a sporting challenge or utilising their creative skillset, any small action can go a long way.
“Our Emergency Fund has never been more important, given the increasing scale and complexity of humanitarian crises. The money raised will help support children in crisis everywhere, from those who have fled conflict in Ukraine to those experiencing hunger in Somalia or suffering the ongoing consequences of the climate crisis.”
The draw for Gabriel’s Hope Bowl will close on Friday 14th April.
For more information on Save the Children, visit www.savethechildren.org.uk
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