Ukrainian ex-top model becomes ambassador of Antwerp Fashion Weekend and raises money for home country (Antwerp)

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Liliya Watson (she kept that last name after the divorce from her Australian ex-husband), lives with her parents, brother and sister in a spacious apartment in the Antwerp Hoogstraat. From her terrace she overlooks the Scheldt, the Sint-Andrieskerk and the City Hall. “I couldn’t live anywhere else in the world,” she says. “Antwerp reminds me of Ukraine. There are many similarities. I feel at home here.”

In her apartment is a display case full of decorations. She received it for the charitable work she has been doing with her for many years foundation. “I was even crowned knight (knight) or Ukraine”, she smiles. “I was given a sword for that award, but it is still in Ukraine.”

Today she is officially a refugee, along with the rest of her family. But sitting still is out of the question. She runs her Saint Andrew Charity Foundation from Antwerp. “We easily get 150 requests for help every day,” she says. The name of that foundation refers to the apostle Andrew. “The only apostle who made it to Kyiv,” explains Watson.

Liliya Watson years ago during the election of Miss Dnipro, her hometown. — © rr

With her organization she is committed to the development, education and care of children worldwide. “Because they are our future.” But since the war with Russia broke out, she has turned her attention to her homeland, where the needs are increasing by the day.

“Before the war, we provided shelter for about 1,500 orphans. In the meantime I have more than 5,000 children under my care. We provide shelter, food, care,” explains Watson. “I also collect money to provide 14 hospitals with the necessary medical materials. To support the hospitals alone, there is a monthly need of 1 million dollars. If you add up all the requests for help, we even need double that every month.”

Need for prostheses for children

To get to those huge budgets, she uses her connections. “I have traveled all over the world as a model, lived in Paris for eleven years and walked the catwalk for the biggest fashion brands. I am now using those connections.”

But she also wants to make her mission known in Antwerp itself. That is why she will become an ambassador for the Antwerp Fashion Weekend on the first weekend of October. “She will then invite Ukrainian designers and models to Antwerp”, explains Nico Volckeryck, chairman of Antwerp Retail Shopping Promotion vzw. She also gets the chance to tell her story. We are happy that we can do this, because we were a bit shocked to hear that people’s attention to the war is starting to wane.”

Liliya as a model for Louis Vuitton. — © rr

And then there is one specific case for which Watson wants to raise money, especially as an ambassador for the Antwerp Fashion Weekend. “We used to make sure that children could go to museums,” she sighs. “That is no longer the case. Now there are so many victims of bombings and there are dozens of children who need an arm, leg or hand prosthesis, a skin graft, etc. These procedures are extremely expensive. At the moment there are 92 children on the waiting list for us alone to undergo such an operation. We want to go the extra mile for them.”

More info: www.saintandrewcharity.org or via the Facebook page of Saint Andrew Charity Foundation

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Ukrainian extop model ambassador Antwerp Fashion Weekend raises money home country Antwerp

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