Story #117: The Boy Who Sings for the Army

October 10, 2023
The story of 9-year old Yurchyk Napora who raised 88 555 $ for Ukrainian military through his singing

Yurchyk Napora is a 9-year-old boy from Lviv Oblast who raised 88 555 $ for the Armed Forces through his singing.

Yurchyk and his father Nazar began playing on the street on August 8, 2022. Since then, they have raised more than three million (UAH) for the army's needs.

The most significant purchases were five cars and a bus for the military. Nazar says that they try to help everyone by responding to various needs, such as a Mavic drone, a thermal imager, or tactical goggles.

The greatest value of what my dad and I do is that we help the military. We're bringing victory closer.

"I saw that a boy from Chernihiv had raised 60 thousand hryvnias. I said to my dad, 'Dad, why can't I do the same if I go to music school?' My dad said, 'Okay.' And so we started learning Ukrainian songs, went out and started singing."

Yurchyk attends a music school and majors in piano. He has always enjoyed playing since he was a child.

Yurchyk was surprised with a toy synthesizer one year on St. Nicholas Day [a religious Ukrainian holiday; traditionally, children are given gifts on this occasion]. Yurchyk gradually learned about music while playing it, and he later wanted to get a proper education.

No one in Napora's family was a professional musician. However, each of the family members has a good ear for music. So that, in response to his son's idea, Nazar quickly began to hone his synthesizer skills so that he could accompany his son.

Yurchyk and his father performing. Photo: Facebook/Nazar Napora

"Performing live without a backing track is much rawer. People notice it. Yurchyk's vocals make up for all of my flaws," says Nazar.

"For about two months, we struggled to muster up the courage to play for people. However, over time, we started to play."

During their first performance, Nazar and Yurchyk raised 23 thousand hryvnias (UAH).

Since Nazar had no previous volunteer experience and handling money is a responsible business, he turned to a military chaplain for help, who has been sending aid to the military on the front line since 2014. Thus, a long-term cooperation was established.

Yurchyk holds a box of donations after one of his concerts. Photo: Facebook/Nazar Napora

Raising funds for the Armed Forces through street music is becoming more common in Ukraine. However, not everyone is able to amass such large sums.

People are drawn to Yurchyk not only for his youth and beautiful vocals, but also for his sincerity and openness. Even unwitting passers-by who hear Yurchyk singing begin to trust the boy. According to Nazar, this is the driving force behind their volunteering's success.

"In addition, a properly selected repertoire also carries weight. National songs composed 30-40 years ago still resonate with people today, and even more so since the full-scale war. They have taken on new meanings," adds Nazar.

Yurchyk and his father Nazar have formed a repertoire of exclusively Ukrainian music, including old pop ballads and ethnic songs that tell the story of the Ukrainian national movement.

Yurchyk says that his favourite songs in the repertoire are Volodymyr Ivasyuk's Ballad of Malva [a tragic ballad about a mother waiting for her son to return from the dead], the song Ukraine, and Maple Ballad.

The boy's father says that at first Yurchyk cried while learning the songs, because each of the stories was too moving for such a young soul.

Apart from street concerts, Yurchyk sings in the Dudaryk choir and in church.

"Yurchyk can sing a mass instead of a priest," Nazar jokes.

Faith and spirituality are fundamental to the Napora family. That's why they try to go to church every day, just like before.

"Now there is a lack of time," Nazar adds, "because we have a job that we can't neglect."

Nevertheless, despite the challenges of everyday life, Nazar does what he can to ensure that the concerts take place regularly.

In the middle of the week, he monitors the weather forecast for the weekend - the only free days of the week - to take his son to the next performance. The boy never gets tired of singing.

Yurchyk is a very conscious child with a clear position on what is happening in Ukraine.

"The war makes me feel unfree. It makes me feel unpeaceful. I feel what is happening in eastern Ukraine, not what is happening in Lviv. Although our Oblast suffers from Russian missiles, it is not as often as those to the east," says Yurchyk.

I feel happy when I realize that I have contributed to the military. I hope it helped them a lot. I have faith in our armed forces. I've always had faith in them.

The Ukrainian military, in turn, send Yurchyk videos and letters of gratitude.

"At home with my wife, we, of course, raise the topic of war. We tell them that Russia is an aggressor country. Yurchyk catches everything on the fly," Nazar says.

Recently, Yurchyk received an award from the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, "For active citizenship, patriotism, and assistance to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which brings the Victory over the enemy closer."

Yurchik holds the award. Photo: Facebook/Nazar Napora

"It was completely unexpected. I had no idea who to thank," Nazar recalls.

Just as Yurchyk looked up to the boy from Chernihiv, other children are now inspired by Yurchyk's activities and are starting to raise funds for the military.

"Children are a great force," Nazar concludes.

Nazar and his wife are raising a younger son, who is already appearing to be musically gifted. An indescribably warm family that helps the Ukrainian army on its difficult path to victory.

Nika Krychovska
Journalist at UkraineWorld