Real stories, fairy-tale transformations, and AI – how Ukrainian children created the «Dreams of Phoenixes» book


The «Dreams of Phoenixes» project is an initiative of the Global Vision Development Publishing House (Switzerland-Ukraine), founded by Olena Hrabovska and implemented with the support of the IvAlive charity foundation by Ivanna Onufriychuk.

It's about a unique book containing real stories of children from Ukraine who found shelter in Switzerland since the beginning of the war. In it, the young authors shared their diverse, often very challenging experiences, while adults transformed these narratives into fairy tales with happy endings. The project was realized by a large creative team, including a literary editor, illustrator, and designers.

Interestingly, the illustrations for each story were created with the help of artificial intelligence.

Children from the Ukrainian school in Geneva and young Ukrainians from Lausanne – wards of Ivanna Onufriychuk's charity foundation – were involved in the project.

We spoke with Olena Hrabovska about the book’s birth, what inspired the team, how the collaboration with AI was established, and also learned how «Dreams of Phoenixes» will be continued in the future.

«The Phoenix Children» — such an accurate name. Each child's story is the most precious, every pain and every candid breath. What struck and inspired you the most?

There are some stories that give you goosebumps. How much these children have seen and lived through... Ambassador of Ukraine to Switzerland, Irina Venediktova, put it very aptly: "These stories were born through the prism of the experienced realities of military aggression. In these tales, behind fairy-tale images, there is the experience of separation and loss, rapid premature maturity, and unchildlike wisdom."

As for the title, the most valuable thing in our philosophy is the idea of renewal! All of us, our children, Ukraine, can regenerate like Phoenixes. I believe in this.

What is the mission of this project?

Our mission is to give children the opportunity to speak out, to live, to experience, and to let go of pain. I am convinced that this is a kind of child psychotherapy.

Is the creative collaboration with AI a marketing experiment, or something else? Why did you decide to cooperate specifically with this "partner"?

We started this project at a time when AI had just become available to the public. So, we began riding the wave of global interest in the possibilities of artificial intelligence. When we were planning the book, we already thought about involving AI in creating some stories, and as we learned more about its capabilities, we began integrating it into creating wonderful illustrations.

Considering that we have a charitable, social project with limited funding, such assistance from AI was very appropriate. We understand that illustrations are quite painstaking, time-consuming, and highly paid work. However, I must confess that simply integrating cutting-edge technologies, exploring their possibilities, was very interesting. And we quickly realized that we would get an extremely vivid, cool, modern result. Furthermore, our decision to cooperate with AI was also driven by the fact that Ukraine is an innovative country with many innovations in the field of IT, fintech, blockchain, and AI technologies. So, figuratively speaking, we were doing this project to keep up with the times, to be in line with the latest global technologies, and to develop accordingly to the realities of Ukrainian today.

How did everything happen, from the start to holding the finished book in your hands?

The team creating it was composed of individuals from Ukraine and Switzerland, who joined this social project from various fields of activity. Some worked with children in schools, some came from sports, and I, let's say, was involved in charity. We are truly diverse, but we were united by the desire to make a breakthrough, something useful, socially significant.

We worked on the project for about eight months. Creating illustration by illustration, tale by tale, we learned: how to write prompts for AI, how to work with apps and platforms, and kept discovering what new things emerged. And each time, we realized that our capabilities were growing. After each update, we improved the project and updated the version. That's why the book took so long to come together, but it was a really cool time of gaining experience.

Is this book more for children or adults? In what language is it published?

The book is bilingual – the stories can be read in Ukrainian and English. Initially, it was conceived as a children's book; in fact, we planned to make it directly for the project participants. But over time, we came to realize that the project should become more global. So, I can say that it is intended for a wide audience.

The next series will be about and for children of fallen Heroes, orphans, as well as children who have been returned from occupied territories and Russia.

Moreover, under the Phoenixes brand, we want not only to release books but also to organize creative festivals, rehabilitation tours for children to Switzerland, and so on.

Is this your first publishing experience?

Yes, this is my first experience in publishing. However, considering that I have worked in marketing and PR for a long time, I understand how to organize and launch such a project. I consider this first experience quite successful. So much so that by the time we received the printed edition, we realized that we needed to develop our own publishing house under the Phoenixes brand.

Tell us more about future projects.

Together with the IvAlive Foundation, we want to scale the project and implement a series of initiatives for Ukrainian children. This will include a rehabilitation program in Switzerland, various thematic events, and direct assistance to children who currently remain in Ukraine. But first and foremost, we plan to publish more books.

Who supports «Dreams of Phoenixes»?

Thanks to the donor assistance from the IvAlive charity foundation, the book was able to come to life, that is, to be printed.

Additionally, we are supported by the Ambassador of Ukraine to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Irina Venediktova. We presented the book to the Ukrainian ombudsman for children's rights and have ambitions to scale the project by involving children who are currently in Ukraine.

At the same time, we are involving volunteer organizations that care for children of displaced persons, fallen Heroes, children from occupied territories. Different categories of children will be involved in creating subsequent books, and we hope for a long-term project.

Therefore, we invite everyone interested to join in creating future «Dreams of Phoenixes».

When will the book be presented?

It will take place on February 21, 2024, as part of the IvAlive Foundation presentation.

A video review of «Dreams of Phoenixes» book:


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