Ukraine President Wears T-Shirt Created By S’porean Teen During Speech, Makes Her Emotional

Ukraine President Wears T-Shirt Sent To Him By 16-Year-Old Singaporean Ava Soh

The Shangri-La Dialogue is now on, with hundreds of world leaders in town to discuss security issues.

But a Singaporean teenager has played an unlikely part in the summit, as one of these world leaders chose to wear a T-shirt she designed for an important speech.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed delegates in Singapore, donning the T-shirt she sent to him and even talked about her initiative to help the country.

Source: IISS on Facebook

That was a very emotional moment for her, she said.

Ukraine President gives special address

Mr Zelensky made a special address via video link on Saturday (11 Jun) to the Shangri-La Dialogue, currently held in Singapore.

Considering his country is now at war, he could only address the 575 delegates from 40 countries from a “secret location” in his capital Kyiv, according to The Straits Times (ST).

Source: IISS on YouTube

During his 12-minute speech, he quoted founding father Lee Kuan Yew and accused Russia of discarding international law with his invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine President’s T-shirt different from usual

While listening to the weighty address, the delegates would’ve noticed that Mr Zelensky wasn’t wearing his typical olive green “army” T-shirt he usually wears during his video calls.

Instead, he wore a more fashionable black T-shirt with a square design in the centre.

It appeared to be of a girl spray-painting the colours of the Ukraine flag.

Here’s a closer look at it:

Source: @dotrdotr on Instagram

Ukraine President’s T-shirt worn to support initiative

Mr Zelensky then explained during his speech that “one girl” wrote him a letter.

She’d founded an initiative called “Spray Paint Ukraine” to help the war-torn country.

For the project, she also created the design as a non-fungible token (NFT).

She sent him a T-shirt with the NFT printed on top for him to wear to bring attention to Spray Paint Ukraine.

Source: DOTR

The President thus duly wore the T-shirt to show the world how much global support Ukraine has received.

Girl started her own brand at 14

According to ST, the girl behind the initiative is Ava Soh, who is just 16 years old.

She’s a secondary four student at St Joseph’s Institution International.

Source: Ava Soh on YouTube

Even more impressive is that she started her own brand, Daughters Of The Revolution (DOTR), when she was 14.

According to the write-up on DOTR’s website, she created it to “empower the next generation of 21st-century heroines through self love”.

The range includes jewellery like rings and pendants.

Source: @dotrdotr on Instagram

Design represents self-belief & confidence

As for the Ukraine design, Ava told ST that she started working on it in April.

She took two to three weeks to develop the illustration, which includes a back view of Ukraine’s traditional dress.

The rendition of the Ukraine flag was chosen to promote self-belief and confidence.

Source: James Crabtree on Facebook

The girl is a “young Ukrainian girl defiantly painting a new future”, and her inclusion was intended to be “a commentary that women too can build the country”.

Ava was inspired after a meeting with Ukrainian Ambassador to Singapore Kateryna Zelenko.

Ava with Ms Zelenko. Source: Ava Soh on YouTube

Ukraine President’s T-shirt was a shock

Ava said she sent Mr Zelensky the T-shirt via the Ukrainian embassy in Singapore just one week ago.

She included a handwritten letter, asking him to wear it in a photo or short video, but didn’t expect him to actually do it, especially “at such a big event”.

That’s why it surprised her to see the President in her T-shirt at the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Source: IISS on YouTube

She would’ve been content to know that he’d held it in his hands, so she gratefully added,

The fact that he wore it and talked about the project, it was a very emotional moment for me.

T-shirt for sale at S$130 each

If you’re interested in wearing one too, the “wearable NFTs” can be purchased at the DOTR website for S$130 each.

Though the price may seem steep, it’s for a good cause — Ava has said that she wants the proceeds to go to the women and children displaced by the war.

There are 1,000 pieces available, in sizes ranging from XS to XL.

Making Singapore proud

Kudos to Ava for her inspiring design and desire to help people.

We’re proud indeed that a world leader has praised a Singaporean teenager despite her tender years.

Her actions have genuinely put our tiny country on the map and underscored how we might be small in size but big in heart.

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Featured image adapted from The International Institute for Strategic Studies on YouTube and Ava Soh on YouTube.

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