• uk
  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    Debris Removal Brigade

    «We realized that we want to do everything possible so that people can return to their previous lives» . The story of one volunteer project


    АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Diana Bevtsyk

    30 July 2022

    Before the full-scale war, the “District 1” project was engaged in the development of Reitarska Street – the center of Old Kyiv. But since April 10 it was transformed into a charitable foundation. Now it is a group of caring people who are completely focused on helping those whose homes have been destroyed. They clean up the debris on their own and look for reconstruction opportunities. Anna Koroleva, one of the volunteers, told about the work of the Headquarters and the stories of several war victims for the “Monologues of the War” project.

    We did everything to create a single urban ecosystem in which street residents, businesses and local authorities worked together to improve the space of the historic center of Kyiv.

    Since the beginning of the war, our co-founders Andriy Titarenko and Andriy Kopylenko have helped the military with medicines. During trips to towns where battles were fought, I realized how much grief and pain the occupiers brought to our people. Then the idea arose to create an organization that would restore the de-occupied territories. Andriy Kopylenko proposed to restart the work of the “District” and expand the idea from one street to the whole of Ukraine.

    The first “outing” was at the beginning of April to Hostomel to clear the streets of debris. At that time there was devastation everywhere and the streets were littered with burnt equipment. It was possible to gather 25 people who diligently got to work. And after a week, 250 new people joined the ranks of volunteers. Currently, the team has more than a thousand enthusiasts – incredible people with special life stories! Currently, the organizing team consists of volunteers who have worked with us since the first weeks: supervisors, managers, designers, photographers – all these people worked side by side with shovels and rags. Now we are like one family that is moving towards its goal. Our goal is to see as many smiles as possible on the faces of the people of Kyiv region in restored homes

    The construction team

    Part of the team at one of the objects

    Our District 1 has changed since the beginning of the war. Like the majority of people in Ukraine, we began to perceive what is called “my home” and “my District” differently.

    Constantly listening to scary stories, you immediately scroll through your mind, how we can rectify this situation, how we can help and how we can be useful.

    For example, we learned about one object from an acquaintance who is engaged in humanitarian aid to people from de-occupied towns. This microdistrict was particularly affected during the hostilities in the Kyiv region. Two two-story buildings and two five-story buildings were partially destroyed. 

    The work of the charity team 

    Working process of the volunteer team

    A direct hit by an unmanaged aerial bomb. Now in this building, on the street Sadova , 44 people live. They have neither water, nor electricity, nor gas. People in the 21st century are forced to cook outside, wash in the yard after dark, even with the condition that water will be delivered if they are lucky.

    Residents without knowing what to do next, whether it is possible to restore their house or not. They did not receive an exact answer from the commission. And there is not much time left until autumn and the first frosts.

    Now we are doing everything we can to help these people survive under such conditions. We have already brought them a shower and euro cubes for water in large volumes. In a few days we will put up a tent for them for temporary housing. We also resolve issues with electricity supply. What are we raising money for?

    — To dismantle the rubble in the basement, so that residents can equip it for housing in the winter and use it as a bomb shelter;

    — For maintenance of bio-toilets;

    — On solar panels to restore electricity supply;

    — If we manage to raise money for this project, we will be able to conduct a damage assessment procedure. We can also rebuild the roof of two-story buildings. Residents of these buildings are in dire need of independent engineering expertise. People do not want to lose their homes, they want to continue their peaceful and quiet life in Gorenka.

    Each of the residents of this building has a personal story about the spent time in the occupation. Each of these stories is sorrowful. When the District 1 team arrived for the first scouting of the facility, they did not believe that we could help, but there was hope in their eyes. 

    The following story is about Olena and Dmytro. They built this house brick by brick during 20 years for their family, the second floor was built for the future family of their son Fedor. This summer, they were going to go to the sea as a family for the first time in 11 years.

    On February 24 their life changed. Until March 9 the family together with 8 relatives were in occupation without electricity, gas and water. They lived in a cellar, stretched their potato stocks, learned the news on the radio because the unknown is the worst thing.

    On March 9, the family got to the western part of the country under fire and pushed the car. Already a week later, a neighbor called and reported the news . The shell had hit their house and it burned almost to the ground, only the outer walls remained.

    Currently, this family lives in a barn during the summer and hopes very much to rebuild their house, because they have nowhere else to live.

    Olena asked us for help on a social network. And soon our volunteers cleared the space of construction debris and the consequences of a shell hit, an engineering assessment of the destruction of the outer walls will be carried out for further work.

    These open and kind people, who treat volunteers with cherries and currants from their garden while working, need help. 

    “Each new object is always difficult emotions from what you see, which quenched the course of three months of our foundation’s work”.

    The eyes get used to the ashes, to the melted mixture of plastic, glass and aluminum, to the destroyed house/school/kindergarten of people who lived, studied and planned the future. In a constant cloud of black dust, devastation becomes a new reality to which you adapt.

    It shouldn’t be like that. Our new reality is a real sorrow and we should remember it. Photos of objects before and after are of special importance for District №1. This is a direct illustration of our results and an undeniable motivation to keep going. We need to take power of will , like to gather and do our best. Remember this every day.

    The attic floor of a residential building in Myla was the cost of hard efforts for the District. Our teams have been working there for nine days. 18 rooms filled with remnants of once “living” apartments. 


    We always need your help such as materials, fuel and consumables, so we want to sincerely thank our volunteers and people who support us financially! Because every hryvnia is a small step towards people returning to their homes.

    We always ask for support, because only joint efforts can help these people survive. We are looking for ways to raise funds. We open fund-raising to save up money  and also we hold events.

    District #1 will hold a Block Party . It is a charity fair, the purpose of which is to support Ukrainian brands, small businesses, as well as to raise funds for the restoration of the Kyiv region and all of Ukraine. More than 30 Ukrainian brands and shops will be involved in the event. There would be a food zone, a children’s area where you can leave your children under the supervision of animators. Ukrainian DJ’s music will be played according to the emotional state of everyone who stayed in Ukraine and is doing everything for our common victory. An art space with installations and works by Ukrainian artists, which were made after the start of the war.

    Read also: 16,000 lunches in 4 months: how Cherkasy business feeds our defenders

    The art space will function as a gallery, so you will have the opportunity to purchase works presented during the event. The money will be distributed between the authors and the fund. The event will last two days: July 30-31. Entrance to the event – a charitable contribution of UAH 200 for the benefit of the District #1 charity.

    Why are we doing this?

    We all know the difficult situation of our economy right now. The first priority for all of Ukraine now is our military and our joint Victory! But the consequences of the war are already felt by thousands of people who were left without a roof over their heads. Only in the Kyiv region 4 thousand residential buildings were destroyed. All these people now live almost under the open sky and almost all of them do not have the finances and strength to restore their homes. 

    Why do we?

    The state budget is focused on financing our military. The procedure of examination of loss to damaged property is a long process and reconstruction is even more so. And while the summer is going on, we want to restore or seal as many municipal and residential buildings as possible for people in need. Because due to weather conditions, buildings become irreparably destroyed every day. If not now, most of the houses will become unsuitable for reconstruction by the end of September. 

    Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
    Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.

    Why is it important to share this story?
    If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.

    АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Diana Bevtsyk


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