Ukrainian youth rebuild village with ‘Clean Up Rivers’

YAHIDNE, Ukraine (AP) — In a village in northern Ukraine that was devastated by the Russian occupation just months ago, a techno party is in full swing.

In a bombed-out building, more than 200 young people find a new way to help rebuild their country.

A daytime “clean-up rave” in Yehidne was organized by young Ukrainians who are using the dance parties to contribute to recovery efforts in the north of the country, which has been heavily damaged by Russian bombing.

Shovels in hand, volunteers tackle the remains of a village cultural center that was destroyed by a Russian rocket attack in March, dumping piles of rubble onto a tractor loader. A DJ, his turntable perched on a pile of ammunition boxes, spins techno and house dance music while volunteers work. Some even take a break from their hard work to dance.

“Volunteering is now my way of life,” said Tanya Boryanova, an organizer of the Repair Together initiative. “I love electronic music and I used to party. But now it’s wartime and we want to help, and we’re doing it with music.

Young volunteers remove debris from a building destroyed by a Russian rocket during a techno performance by a DJ in the village of Yahidne, Chernihiv region, Ukraine, on July 24, 2022.

Ukraine’s vibrant club scene came to an abrupt halt on February 24 with the Russian invasion. Now, with a nightly curfew in place in the capital Kyiv, and the threat of more Russian rocket attacks, followers of Ukraine’s party culture have combined the fun and freedom of music festivals with rebuilding their beloved country. tried to.

Boryanova said the scavenger races bring together people who lost their nightclub communities during the war, and help restore a sense of normalcy and fun in devastated towns. Help is available.

“We miss (the parties) and we want to get back to normal life, but our normal life now is voluntary,” Boryanova, 26, told The Associated Press.

The ruined cultural center is located on the edge of Yehidne, where more than 300 villagers were held in a basement for weeks by Russian forces during their occupation of northern Chernihiv province.

A Dj Works As Young Volunteers Clear Debris From A Building Destroyed By A Russian Rocket In The Village Of Yehidne, Chernihiv Region, Ukraine, Sunday, July 24, 2022.
A DJ works as young volunteers clear debris from a building destroyed by a Russian rocket in the village of Yehidne, Chernihiv region, Ukraine, Sunday, July 24, 2022.

Local resident Nina, 68, said she spent the horrific weeks in the basement before the Russian troops withdrew and 11 people died there as a result of the poor conditions. She was grateful to see the youth coming together to help rebuild the village.

“They have already repaired our windows, doors and entrances,” Nina said of the volunteers. “We couldn’t do it on our own with our salaries or pensions. I am grateful that they helped us.

Most of the volunteers were in their 20s and 30s and came from Kyiv, about two hours away. But others have come from the western city of Lviv and nearby Chernihiv, while some foreign volunteers have come from Portugal, the US, Germany and elsewhere.

The cleanup at the cultural center was the group’s eighth project so far, and they have already helped repair 15 damaged houses in the village. Boryanova said they plan to expand and hold a building camp event in the nearby town of Lukashivka, where they will build 12 houses for people whose homes have been destroyed.

After finishing the set, DJ Oleksandr Buchinskiy said that all the volunteers are connected by a sense of hope and responsibility.

“These are all young people who still have a passion for life, but they feel pain and are very sad and angry because of the war,” Buchinsky said. “But they feel the need to participate in this historic moment and help people and make Ukraine a better place with smiles on their faces.”

But follow the AP’s coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war.

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