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Nina Bargiel: My World Refugee Day Story

June 20th is the United Nations’ World Refugee Day; the noted animation writer and story editor shares her thoughts on why ’50 million children need more than my words.’

With the United Nations’ World Refugee Day coming June 20th, animation writer and story editor Nina Bargiel shares the following personal story exclusively with AWN readers:

For some people, the idea of refugees is theoretical. We see the photos, we read the articles, but it’s happening over there. Far away. In a place that we can’t see.

But for me, it’s not.

Because my mother was a child refugee.

Growing up, other kids in school had stories about their families coming over on the Mayflower. Me? I had stories about my family’s life as Displaced Persons. My mom was born in a refugee camp in Germany. The camp had been created on the site of the Landeshut work camp, where prisoners were forced to make parachutes for the Nazis.  

My grandfather enlisted his two young daughters to collect scraps of parachute silk that were left behind, and they’d bring the haunted remnants back to my grandmother and great-grandmother to sew into clothes. And sometimes he’d outfit his youngest daughter (my mother) in these clothes and have her sing songs and recite poems for the other refugees, often in exchange for food and booze.

When my friend and fellow kids’ television writer Grant Moran told me about a grassroots organization he’d recently founded called Kids Entertainment Professionals for Young Refugees (KEPYR), he didn’t know about my family history. He just thought everyone in the kids’ entertainment business should be aware that the world is currently experiencing the worst global child refugee crisis since WWII and that there should be an easy way for us all to stand together as a community to do something about it.

I write for kids because I want them to know that someone cares about what they’re going through. I want them to know that we’re in their corner. I want them to feel less alone. So supporting KEPYR feels completely right to me professionally as well as personally.

I still have my mother’s bowl and cup, assigned to her by UNICEF in the camp. They’re pieces of living history, reminders that while as a kids’ TV writer I get to sit at my laptop and type out these words, there are 50 million children who need a lot more than my words right now.  

June 20th is World Refugee Day. I invite all my kids’ entertainment colleagues to mark the day by joining me in supporting UNICEF’s heroic and inspiring work on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable children. You can do that at 100% of all KEPYR donations go to UNICEF.  For more information about KEPYR or to volunteer, please write to


With a presence in 190 countries and territories, UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. It’s serving the needs of young refugees across four continents by:

  • Delivering life-saving supplies to children and their families fleeing escalating violence in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Northern Africa
  • Providing water and tents to create safe spaces for the growing wave of children moving through Europe
  • Working to improve the lives of children fleeing violence and abuse in Central America

About KEPYR and the “Kindred Spirits” Online Fundraising Drive

Kids Entertainment Professionals for Young Refugees, KEPYR, the grassroots, entirely volunteer organization of kids and family entertainment professionals, has launched their 3rd annual “Kindred Spirits” campaign, an online fund-raising effort in coordination with the forthcoming United Nation’s World Refugee Day on June 20th, 2019. From June 14th - 27th, Kindred Spirits directs donations to UNICEF through their online website:

According to UNICEF, a staggering one out of two hundred children alive today – nearly 50 million in total – is a refugee.

“We call our June fundraiser ‘Kindred Spirits’ because all of us in the children’s entertainment industry, regardless of what we do and where we live, are bound by a common love of children,” noted Emmy-winning writer-producer Grant Moran, founder of KEPYR. “And unfortunately, we’re living at a time when the world’s most vulnerable children need that love translated into action more than ever.”

KEPYR is dedicated to raising awareness of this current humanitarian catastrophe among the global children’s entertainment community and rallying support for UNICEF’s vital and heroic work in that area. The organization spans five continents and includes artists, writers, actors, producers, game designers, content developers, authors, composers, agents, network and studio executives and others working independently and at companies and organizations like: Mattel, Marvel, Disney, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks, Netflix, Amazon, Warner Bros., Hasbro, Blizzard Entertainment, Saban, Cyber Group, Scholastic, King Features, Little Airplane, Silvergate Media, WGBH, WNET, Gaumont, Pukeko Pictures, Mechanic Animation, CrunchyRoll, Aniplex USA, DR Movie Animation, D-Rights, Panaderia Licensing & Marketing, Ripple Effect Consultancy, Animation Magazine, Women in Animation, The Children’s Media Conference and The Australian Children’s Television Foundation.  

This year, the Mattel Children’s Foundation and Philanthropy has announced it will match all donations by its employees to the “Kindred Spirits” fundraiser.

“We’re extremely grateful for Mattel’s enthusiastic support of KEPYR and hope their leadership and generosity will inspire kids and family entertainment companies around the world to follow suit in encouraging their employees’ participation in this grassroots movement on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable children,” added Moran.

About Nina Bargiel

If you have kids, were a kid, or know a kid, chances are you’ve seen Nina Bargiel’s work. She began her career on the Disney Channel, where she wrote seventeen episodes of the hit series Lizzie McGuire, including the infamous “I WANT A BRA!”, “Aaron Carter” and “Merry Christmas, Lizzie McGuire.” Nina has written for both live-action and animated programs, such as How to Rock, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures, and DC Superhero Girls, as well as on shows at Cartoon Network, MTV, Hasbro, Mattel, Titmouse, Netflix, and some other places that she’s completely forgotten about in her nearly 20-year career. Currently, she’s working on Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart and developing shows for Activision/Blizzard, One Race Television, and Gaumont.