“It’s like you don’t think of everything,” said Tetiana Burianova, an organizer for the group. “You move and feel the music.”
Burianova is an organizer with the volunteer group Repair Together, a mostly Kyiv-based operation that is stepping up the grim task of clearing rubble from Ukrainian neighborhoods by hosting “cleanup raves.” The group brings DJs on site to spin techno music while volunteers and residents shovel and sweep.
“I think it’s not just about fixing houses, it’s also about fixing ourselves,” said Oksana Huz, another volunteer organizer.
Yahidne, a small village northeast of Kyiv, was under Russian control in March and April. Russian troops seized residents’ homes and kept 356 people in a school basement for a month, residents said. By the time the Russian forces withdrew, 11 people had died from the conditions in the basement and the village lay in ruins.
“Before, it was bright and modern,” said Vladyslav, a 17-year-old Yahidne resident who was being held in the school’s basement. “We had a club, a library, a garden, a school…”
Now, says Vladyslav, everything he knew in his city is destroyed.
Strobe lights and stacked amplifiers sit next to heaps of crushed cinder blocks, as volunteers rhythmically pass shards of concrete and bend their knees to music. Villagers now look forward to visits from Repair Together, bringing food and drink to the worksites to share with the volunteers.
“If people come here and help us play music, it kind of helps the village to renew and revive,” said Valerii, another resident of Yahidne. “Before that, people walked around gloomy, emotionless, and that helps them forget the war a bit and feel joy.”
“It’s quite boring to work,” he said. “That way you can dance a little too.”