Young Violin Player Fundraises for Ukrainian Violin Maker Who Lost It All

violin player
Nadia Sayed
Photo by Aruna Talapatra

Young Violin Player Fundraises for Ukrainian Violin Maker Who Lost It All

A 10-year-old violin player has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for a Ukrainian violin maker who lost everything in the Russian war and became a refugee.

Nadia Sayed, a Long Island fifth grader, had read an article in The Strad about Oleksandr “Alex” Smykovskyi, a violin maker born, raised, and living in Mariupol, Ukraine, when Russian forces bombed the city in February 2022. Nadia wanted to help him, so she and her mother, Aruna Talapatra, launched a GoFundMe campaign that has gained more than $19,000 to help Smykovskyi rebuild his life.

“My home and my violin shop are completely destroyed, including all my tools, my woods, all instruments including five new violins in various stages of completion” he had told The Strad. “Like many of my countrymen, I am now a displaced person, a refugee without any basic belongings or means of livelihood.”

violin player
Oleksandr Smykovskyi in his violin shop before Mariupol bombing

The mother and daughter got in contact with Smykovskyi through an American violinist, Gary Sinderovsky, who was also trying to help the violin maker, who escaped his war-torn city with only the clothes on his back and one backpack. He had been running a violin-making business since 1996 before the bombing.

He recently wrote that as a refugee, there are “a lot of complicated circumstances all around, and under such conditions, it is almost impossible to fully control your own life.” 

Since starting the GoFundMe in April 2022, it has raised $19,516. Nadia and her mom hope to reach a goal of $25,000. The young violin player and her mother talk to Smykovskyi on a regular basis, many times about music. They are looking forward to the day that they can meet in person.