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Volunteers hold cleanup ‘raves’ to rebuild Ukraine

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With electronic beats blaring in the background, volunteers sweep, scrub and drag debris. It’s not a typical techno party activity, but for young people in Ukraine, it’s a compromise between summer music festivals and the massive rebuilding efforts taking place. Our observer, one of the volunteers who organizes the “rave clean-ups,” explained that it’s a way to keep volunteers motivated and inspired during the long clean-up process.

A group of young Ukrainians have assembled a team of volunteers to repair houses, clean up bombed-out buildings and bring joy back to the people of Ukraine – all while dancing to techno beats. If war hadn’t broken out when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, these volunteers could enjoy summer music festivals. Instead, they are being mobilized to help clean up cities devastated by bombing and violence.

Fix together was formed by a group of friends who began organizing clean-ups, transporting volunteers from Kiev to needy areas in the northern region of Chernihiv. Chernihiv was the site of fierce Russian attacks after troops began invading Ukraine on February 24. By the time the Russians withdrew in early April, many homes and buildings had been destroyed by weeks of bombing.

After organizing several events to clean up and rebuild buildings in the Chernihiv area, Repair Together volunteers organized a rave party in the town of Yahidne on July 23, where more than 200 volunteers participated. Many of them came from Kiev, but there were also people from the United States, Germany and other countries to help.

While a DJ played nearby, the volunteers worked to clear the grounds of the city’s cultural center.

“People who join us once to volunteer will come again and again, they won’t be tired”

Tetiana Burianova is one of the creators of Repair Together. She told the FRANCE 24 Observers team how the “rave clean-ups” came about.

The first time we did it it was just for our friends, we didn’t even announce it. Then we saw many locals come to us and clean with us. They loved the atmosphere, the music and they asked for more and thanked us for the experience. Then we organized a second event for all our volunteers and many journalists came too.

Parties and techno and raves used to be a big part of our lives. And now it’s impossible – volunteering is our lifestyle. All we can do is help the people of Ukraine and support each other. So we mix the things we like with volunteering. All the time we organize concerts for locals and volunteers. Besides music we also have stand-up shows. People who join us once to volunteer will come again and again, they will not get tired. They want to do more, because we are doing great together in a good atmosphere with beautiful music. It’s inspiring to us and we enjoy what we do.

Videos from the event show young people dancing to the music and enjoying beer and food in the remains of the cultural center of Yahidne, destroyed by Russian attacks. But during the festivities, they are also busy stacking stones, shoveling rubble and clearing debris.

The event attracted international attention and since then they have carried out two more cleanups and have started planning the next rave party, which will be held at the end of August. The group has so far organized eight clean-ups, clearing the rubble of 12 houses in the Chernihiv region. They now hope to start rebuilding those houses.

‘All of Ukraine is united to help them and has not forgotten them’

The Kiev region received a lot of attention. But when the Russian troops left, we went to the Chernihiv region to check the situation and it was terrible. People lost their homes, they had nowhere to live. And we wanted to help those people because it is far from Kiev and cut off since all the bridges were destroyed.

The attention of these parties really helps the locals. Maybe it’s not the kind of music they usually listen to, but it gives psychological support to know that all of Ukraine is united to help them and has not forgotten them. And of course some grandmothers in the villages don’t like the music, but young people like it very much.

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