Young volunteers are rebuilding Ukrainian towns with clean-up raves

Since the last days of February, Eastern Ukraine has experienced unrelenting shelling and occupation by Russian soldiers. Even the country’s smallest and least populated towns have not been exempt from this reality.

Located in the North East, Yahidne is home to just 300 people, but was targeted by opposition forces in March. Residents were bombarded and held captive in a local basement cellar and the town’s village culture centre — along with numerous other buildings — were all but destroyed by Putin’s rockets.

Today, the area is no longer occupied, but evidence of the invasion is visible through the ruins. In efforts to rebuild the town, over 200 young volunteers from the community organisation Repair Together have banded together to shovel the rubble, clear debris, and repair buildings.

But this is no usual post-war recovery project. In the true spirit of young people, local DJs and lovers of the dance scene are rebuilding to the soundtrack of techno and house music — a ‘clean-up rave’ if you will.

Setting the scene is Ukrainian DJ Oleksandr Buchinskiy, who laid his decks atop abandoned ammunition boxes and began playing a daytime set for the hundreds of young volunteers equipped with shovels, wheelbarrows, and hardhats.

In between their efforts, groups can be seen taking breaks by dancing together in open, newly cleared areas around the buildings — creating a sense of unity after a period of darkness.

Ukraine once had a bustling nightlife scene, but Russia’s invasion saw curfews implemented in places like Kyiv, the nation’s capital city. Numerous other cities across the nation saw a total closure of popular event venues.

Tania Burianova, a 26-year-old volunteer for Repair Together, told the Associated Press, ‘We miss [parties] and we want to come back to normal life, but our normal life now is volunteering.’

Speaking of the shared sense of optimism and unity amongst the volunteers, Burianova continued, ‘It’s wartime and we want to help, and we’re doing it with music.’

Most of the volunteers aren’t locals of Yahidne, either. Many drove at least two hours from Kyiv or from the western city of Lviv, and some came from the nearby Chernihiv. Foreign volunteers from Portugal, America, and Germany have also joined to help.

Rebuilding the town’s culture centre was Repair Together’s eighth project so far, and it plans to rebuild 12 destroyed houses and repair at least 25 more in nearby areas before winter begins.

Nina, a 68-year-old resident of the Yahidne said, ‘[Repair Together] already repaired our windows, doors and entrances. We couldn’t do it ourselves with our salaries or pensions. I’m thankful that they helped us.’

To support Repair Together on its mission to rebuild Ukraine’s cities, you can donate to the organisation here.

Originally written by Jessica Byrne for Thred.

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Jessica Byrne

Jessica Byrne

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I’m Jessica, a writer for Thred. Originally from Bermuda, I now live in London and write about all things related to social change.