A Bradford author is donating all proceeds from her books to a Ukrainian illustrator who has fled the country due to the ongoing war with Russia.
Jessica Saunders hired Ukrainian artist Nataliia Tymoshenko through a freelance website last year to illustrate her two children's books. Saunders then self-published the bright, colourful stories The Little Peanut and Where Do Our Loved Ones Go through Amazon this past fall.
When Saunders learned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine last month, she immediately reached out to Tymoshenko to see how she was. The women have been in touch every day since the war began.
Currently, Tymoshenko and her family are all separated.
"She (Tymoshenko) had to run to safety while leaving her elderly parents and husband and younger brother behind," Saunders told BradfordToday.
Tymoshenko and her two children, ages six and four, are currently staying in a flat in Slovakia while her husband is in Ukraine fighting.
"They believe that their father and the other soldiers are superheroes of light and they will absolutely beat the darkness," Tymoshenko told Saunders in a phone call.
Each Tymoshenko worries and waits for him to check in letting her know he is safe. Tymoshenko's parents had to stay behind due to her mother's ailing health, and her 21-year-old brother was not allowed to leave the country.
Tymoshenko fled Ukraine with just her bag and computer so that she could continue to work.
"She ran for three days with her two small kids," said Saunders. "It's just absolutely crazy."
"I sit at home and shield my kids from seeing the news on TV, afraid it will upset them, she has no choice for her kids...war is reality. There is no shielding them from the truth when their father is fighting the evil and they had to run from it," said Saunders.
Saunders has decided to donate all proceeds from her two books to Tymoshenko and her family.
"I decided to donate all proceeds from books I sold on March to her and her family," said Saunders.
Since sharing her initiative on social media, she has sold nearly 50 books.
"The community has been so supportive," said Saunders. "I just wanted to help some way and obviously we aren't all in a place right now to have tons of money to give, but every little bit helps.
"Every penny will go to her, hoping that it can help her with meals or some toys or clothes for her kids. I couldn't even imagine leaving your husband and parents behind, running with your kids, being displaced from home."
Tymoshenko worked in the marketing and advertising field for 10 years as a designer, before having her two children, and then battling a cancer diagnosis. It was after this, she discovered her true passion for illustrating, inspired by nature and her own children. One day, Tymoshenko hopes to be able to publish her own book series.
Anyone interested in purchasing a book and donating to the Tymoshenko family can visit Saunders' website here.