Russia’s invasion last year prompted unprecedented unity among Ukrainians and their allies worldwide.
It was no different in Perth, when WA Police Inspector Don Emanuel-Smith, freelance producer Tim Jenkins and Ukrainian ex-pat Tetyana Izyumenko banded together to produce a charity music video to help the war-torn country.
“I know first-hand the power of the media,” Mr Jenkins said.
“The plight of Ukrainian people, and the current state-of-war they find themselves in, is a story being reported regularly.
“However, this regularity — the reportage becoming background noise — eventually numbs viewers to the atrocities. I felt that there could and should be something more (done to help).”
Mr Jenkins approached an old friend, Insp Emanuel-Smith, who already wrote a song titled “The Voice That Won’t Be Silenced”.
“I wanted to portray a feeling of strength, solidarity, defiance,” Insp Emanuel-Smith said.
“I felt deep within that those oppressing dictatorships could never truly break the defiant spirit and the voice of the people and that every horrible thing they did was always going to be seen and exposed no matter how much they tried to conceal their criminal actions.”
Insp Emanuel-Smith met Ms Izyumenko over a decade earlier, having spent much of his policing career working with multicultural communities.
“My connection with Tetyana worked perfectly in the production of the video, as she was doing lots already in fundraising and able to gather members from the WA Ukraine community to be part of the song project.”
Ms Izyumenko, born in Nikopol in the Dnipropetrovsk region, South-East of Ukraine, moved to WA about 20 years ago with her infant son.
She said she remembered February 24, 2022 — the day Russia launched their invasion — and the paralysing shock she felt like it was yesterday.
“I couldn’t believe reading the news that the war started,” she said.
“It was very early in Ukraine, just after 5 am, so I hesitated to call my family, but I wanted to speak to them and ensure they were ok. I was lost and didn’t know what I could do.”
Ms Izyumenko began fundraising and coordinating medical aid supplies to be shipped to Ukraine.
“I was touched by the song and the fact that Don and Tim wanted to help Ukraine,” she said.
“It brought me to tears when I heard it for the first time. Australia is so far from Ukraine, hardly anyone knew much about Ukraine before the war, but so many people are united, kind and generous and want to help Ukraine.”
The music video is a mix of confronting footage and images from the war and members of the Ukrainian community in Perth — rallied by Ms Izyumenko — watching Insp Emanuel-Smith perform the song on his guitar.
All proceeds from the song — set to be released on Spotify and iTunes on XXX — will be donated to XXX.