Interview With Halyna Budilova: A Woman With An Indomitable Spirit And A Zest For Life

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  1. What is your professional background?

I am a translator, so I was happy not only to write my own poems for our book, ‘The Sunflower Lion’, but also to translate the poems of my colleagues.

2. What brought you specifically to Ireland during this time of crisis in Ukraine?

I have a friend who is British and her parents live in Ireland. So, when Russia invaded Ukraine she invited me and my two kids to stay with them for a while. And I wouldn’t call it “a crisis in Ukraine” – it’s a full-fledged war of Russia against Ukraine, which actually started 8 years ago.

3. What is your impression of Ireland and the Irish people since your time here?

People are amazing! So empathetic, so gentle, so caring, and what is also very important – a great sense of humour! And the landscapes! Absolutely gorgeous! Ireland is the best place for healing of the wounded souls.

Ukrainian people, clearly moved by the poems and stories in, ‘The Sunflower Lion’, watching a presentation. Photo by Sergey Pashchenko
The launch of, ‘The Sunflower Lion’ on Sunday 28th August in the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin. Photo by Sergey Pashchenko

4. Where did you get your idea to publish the book, ‘The Sunflower Lion’?

My older son Lenny kept asking me when we will go back home, and what if his toys are crying under the bed without him… so after a couple of months of silence I finally wrote my first poem for him – Toys. After that, I felt relief and decided that I and other evacuated mothers with kids needed a book that would support them during these tough times of uncertainty.

5. How did you go about putting the book together?

Almost all of my time was with my kids; they are 6 and 2 years old. So, I worked mostly at night. But all the poems were so amazing and true that we wanted to do everything perfectly. Our team of translators did a great job! As well, a team that prepared audio content – the singer PTASHKA, the voice of the audio tales Mila Yaroshevych, the voice of poems Maria Novikova! They all are amazing. In general, it was great teamwork.

Children enjoying the illustrations in ‘The Sunflower Lion’. Photo by Sergey Pashchenko
At the launch of ‘The Sunflower Lion’. At the table – L to R, Halyna Budilova, Eileen Moynihan, Tatyana Stewart Feeney. Photo by Sergey Pashchenko

6. Tell us about the launch of ‘The Sunflower Lion’.

We were honoured to present our book in the Smock Alley Theatre in the very center/centre of Dublin! The launch was a success – with a wonderful audience! I enjoyed sharing this experience with two great Irish authors – you, Eileen, and Tatyana Feeny.

L to R, Halyna Budilova, Eileen Moynihan, Tatyana Stewart Feeney. Photo by Sergey Pashchenko

7. Have you some more projects you are working on?

Sure. I have my publishers,

We are a publishing house and a creative agency, and our job is to create interesting, useful and relevant  books for children and parents . While creating real  magical universes , we realized over time that they are cramped on paper, so we also develop other children’s content in any format:  games, musical works, comics, cartoons and printed products with augmented reality .

Our team believes that a book is the  best toy  for a child and a wonderful  therapeutic tool  for parents, teachers and everyone who works with children, and the combination of fantasy and real worlds in our everyday life is the perfect  space for developing imagination, learning and strengthening ties  between family members.

… and right now we are working on two more books about war for kids – a therapeutical tale in Ukrainian and a tale in verses in English. The second one is a collaboration with a talented American illustrator Rasika Rajput Oke and we do hope to publish and launch the book as soon as possible and look for partners.

8. What are your hopes for the future for your family and your publishing company?

The one thing I do hope for is to have a peaceful sky over our dear independent Ukraine. We can’t imagine our life without it. As someone said – if freedom had a name – it would be UKRAINE.

Feeling it at the launch of ‘The Sunflower Lion’. Photo by Sergey Pashchenko
A book is born

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