British actor Mark Strong is channeling his fame into a noble cause, focusing his efforts on aiding Ukrainian schoolchildren amidst the ongoing conflict. Strong has partnered with United24, the Ukrainian government's official fundraising initiative, to transform a bomb shelter into a safe haven for 327 students in Uman, Ukraine.
Amidst fears of Russian missile strikes, this shelter will provide a secure environment for uninterrupted education. Strong's commitment to this cause is deeply personal. "The current situation, where children are at risk of ordinance strikes while trying to learn, is heart-wrenching," Strong expressed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
"The existing shelter is in dire condition. We need $60,000 to make it a safe space. It's crucial that these children have a chance to continue their education in safety." This month marks nearly two years since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
Strong condemns the conflict, calling it "outrageous and disgusting." He added, "The relentless struggle of the Ukrainian people to defend their sovereign land against Putin's unwarranted aggression deeply saddens me."
Children in Crisis
The United Nations reports staggering figures, highlighting the conflict's devastating impact on children.
Denise Brown, the U.N.' s humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, stated in June that among the approximately 70,000 Ukrainian casualties and over 100,000 injuries, children constitute at least 1,500 of these tragic numbers.
Save the Children's report last spring paints a grim picture of the educational crisis, with over 450 educational facilities destroyed and 5.5 million schoolchildren's education disrupted. Despite what he terms "compassion fatigue," Strong remains optimistic.
As an ambassador for United24's Education and Science platform, he joins a list of celebrity supporters including Barbra Streisand, Liev Schreiber, Mark Hamill, and Katheryn Winnick, all advocating for continued global support for Ukraine.
Strong's involvement with United24 led to a memorable encounter with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. "Our 40-minute video chat was remarkable. President Zelensky's background in acting made for an instant connection," Strong shared.
Their conversation took a lighter turn when discussing Strong's role as Emperor Javicco Corinno in the upcoming 'Max's Dune: Prophecy' series. "I jokingly asked if my on-screen role as emperor might someday become reality. President Zelensky found the humor in it," Strong recalled with a smile.