Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy wears t-shirt designed by 16-year-old Singaporean girl at Shangri-La Dialogue

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the delegates virtually at the Shangri-La Dialogue on Saturday, June 11. But it was not just his speech, even his striking t-shirt, designed by a Singaporean girl, caught everyone’s attention.

Featuring an NFT illustration of a girl spray-painting the blue and yellow colours of the Ukraine flag, the black t-shirt was designed by a 16-year-old girl named Ava Soh, who sent him the same along with a handwritten letter.

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Zelenskyy said, “She wrote me a letter asking to support her initiative called Spray Paint Ukraine — aiming to help Ukraine.”

He added that “this is a request from this girl for her idea, her confidence that the President of Ukraine will really respond to her initiative, and that I will be willing to help is of crucial importance.”

Ava, who watched the live stream of Zelenskyy’s speech, told Channel News Asia that she didn’t expect him to actually wear the t-shirt. “I didn’t even think that he would wear it or talk about it. But the fact that he talked about it, I was just very shocked,” she said.

Further, she revealed that she sent him the t-shirt and the letter only two weeks ago. “I actually asked him if he could wear it in one of the press conferences, and that will help turn this into a global movement. I truly did not expect him to wear it, because he’s the president of a country going through a war.”

Shortly after the president’s speech, Ava’s father Calvin Soh took to Facebook to announce the news.

“So this happened. President Zelenskyy wore my daughter’s design at the #ShangriLaDialogue. He used this as a point in his speech about believing in what can be possible. Ava did this as a wearable NFT to fundraise for Ukraine. She worked with BigBeyond for the NFT and t-shirt. So this is a made in SG project,” he wrote.

Soh added that the design is of a young Ukrainian girl “defiantly painting a new future because self-belief is the best middle finger to oppression. Why a girl? Because half the world are women, the other half are sons.”

According to The Strait Times, the sales from the t-shirt, which are sold with the NFT printed on them, will be donated to the Ukrainian Embassy in Singapore.

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