Conflicts & War

Repair Together: the young Ukrainians cleaning up destroyed towns

By Rostyslav Averchuk

Lviv, Ukraine, Aug 4 (EFE).- Before the war, Kyiv was home to a burgeoning underground electronic music scene. Now, young Ukrainians are organizing raves that gather hundreds of volunteers to help clean up the debris from Russian bombs and help repair buildings destroyed during the Kremlin’s invasion.

At what used to be a cultural center in Yahidne, a village north of Kyiv, dozens of volunteers are sifting through piles of rubble from the severely damaged building, all to the rhythmic backdrop provided by local DJs.

“Volunteering has to be interesting and fun,” Tetyana Burianova from the Repair Together initiative tells Efe, adding that it is important that they do not get exhausted as there is much work to be done.

Every Saturday, hundreds of young Ukrainians and foreigners travel to the Chernihiv region equipped with tents and sleeping bags.

But they are not heading for a picturesque summer music festival. Instead, two days of hard work to remove rubble and rebuild destroyed houses in towns like Yahidne await them.

The village of nearly 400 people was surrounded by the Russians for a month while they robbed and destroyed their homes. Eleven of the residents were killed.

Before the first ‘clean-up rave’, Tetyana says they were unsure how the locals would react, but organizers were confident that “the atmosphere of love and mutual support is much more valuable for those who survived the occupation than words”.

Around 20 men and even some children joined the effort, while others participated in after-work activities such as speeches and concerts.

“Every time we come to town, two women wait for us with homemade varenyky (a kind of dumpling),” Tetyana says.

At the end of a recent camp in Ivanivka in southern Ukraine, despite two days of strenuous physical work, volunteers and local people danced together to the music of the folk band “Shchuka Ryba”.

Yaroslav Danylchuk, 32, who has taken part in several of these “toloka”, a Ukrainian term to describe when people gather for urgent clean up or construction work, says that he only learned about the “rave” parties recently and insists that the most important thing is the work.

“The scale of the destruction is immense,” Yaroslav says. “We are in a race against time to help people prepare their damaged houses for the coldest part of the year.”

There is a lot of work still to be done, and the residents cannot do it alone. Many of them are often older women. Some lost their children and husbands to the terror of Russian troops.

Yaroslav hopes that so many young people coming out to do what they can will give the local residents of these destroyed towns and villages moral support and hope for a better future.

The initiative selects only the most vulnerable families and rebuilds between 12 and 15 houses in each of the localities they have been to.

While the first camp attracted some 50 volunteers, the one held in Ivanivka last week had 250 people helping out, and dozens have been joining the initiative every day on its Telegram channel.

The initiative has raised over 600,000 hryvnias ($16,338) in private donations from Ukrainians, and it continues to raise funds for tools and construction materials in the hopes of attracting large companies and international funds. EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button