фотоісторія

Volunteers of BUR. A Photo History

Student volunteers of the “Building Ukraine Together” movement sitting in the Mariupol train station before their departure for the city Berdiansk.

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Photographer:

Oleksandr Khomenko

Volunteers sing songs from a songbook, sitting in a minibus on the way to the buildings they will renovate in Berdiansk.

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Oleksandr Khomenko

The wall of an ATO veteran’s room on the outskirts of Berdiansk. Volunteers of the “Building Ukraine Together” movement set out to repair this apartment as well.

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Oleksandr Khomenko

A volunteer holds a sheet of wallpaper in an autistic boy’s room, which the volunteers of the “Building Ukraine Together” movement set out to renovate.

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Oleksandr Khomenko

A girl paints the ceiling in a Berdiansk apartment where an ATO soldier will live after the completion of the restoration by “Building Ukraine Together” volunteers.

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A tattoo in the image of the Crazy Hatter from Lewis Carrol’s “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland” on the arm of one of the volunteers.

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Volunteers are installing a ceiling in the annex of a house, which they are helping to complete building for a migrant from Donbas.

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A boy installs a block on the wall of an annex which the “Building Ukraine Together” movement is building for a Donbas refugee near Berdiansk.

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Donbas refugees Viktor and Nataliya Miroshnichenko pose along with their three children against the backdrop of their unfinished Berdiansk summer home, which became their permanent home as a result of the war.

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A woman named Tetiana holds her autistic grandson Maksym in her arms. Volunteers have taken on repairing one of the rooms in this family’s apartment.

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Morning exercise before the beginning of the workday.

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Volunteers play a game on one of the Berdiansk beaches.

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A room in the dormitory where the “Building Ukraine Together” volunteers live throughout the week.

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At a party, before saying goodbye and departing from Berdiansk, a volunteer meets his “secret friend” — a person who was supposed to make small, secret gifts for him throughout their time in the camp. Each volunteer had such a “secret friend” who was chosen with a drawing at the beginning of their stay in the camp.

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Oleksandr Khomenko

Boys carry a generator and the “Building Ukraine Together” movement flag across the bay in Berdiansk after spending the night on the beach.

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Volunteers of the “Building Ukraine Together” movement sing the national anthem of Ukraine in the main square of Berdiansk during the ceremonies of the Flag day of Ukraine.

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Volunteers who are staying in the camp say goodbye to those who are going home.

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Volunteers sleep while riding in the trunk of a minibus to the Mariupol railway station, from which they will depart for their homes.

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Volunteers saying goodbye to each other in the evening by the fire at the Berdiansk base.

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Sunset over the Azov sea waterfront in Berdiansk.

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The photo documentary about the “Building Ukraine Together” (BUR — tr.) movement was shot by photographer Oleksandr Khomenko while living with the participants in one of the camps in Berdiansk. It is likely that, after the coronavirus pandemic in Ukraine, this movement will become even more relevant. In the meantime, let’s recall through this photo story why thousands of volunteers from all over Ukraine came together during the existence of BUR and how they spent their time.

Student volunteers of the “Building Ukraine Together” movement sitting in the Mariupol train station before their departure for the city Berdiansk. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

Volunteers sing songs from a songbook, sitting in a minibus on the way to the buildings they will renovate in Berdiansk. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

Oleksandr Khomenko:

There are two main ways to make a good photo documentary — to live with your protagonists for a somewhat long period of time or to occasionally visit the protagonists, capturing more and more new aspects of the chosen topic until you feel that you have learned and photographed everything that you wanted to understand.

The “Volunteers” project was shot in the first manner. I lived with the activists of the “Building Ukraine Together” movement in Berdiansk for four or five days in August 2017. This time turned out to be sufficient to meet and communicate with the leaders of the movement and many volunteers, to spend time in all BUR construction and restoration sites in Berdiansk, and, most importantly, to understand what this movement truly is.

“Building Ukraine Together” was founded by three members of the Lviv educational foundation — Vitaliy Kokur, Andriy Levitsky, and Yurko Didula. They were the ones who implemented the first BUR project in Kramatorsk in 2014, intending to help people who had been affected by the war.

After Kramatorsk, there was Sloviansk and many other cities of eastern Ukraine. In the next year, the volunteers decided to conduct a geographical experiment and invited activists from eastern Ukraine to help rebuild homes in the Lviv region.

“We felt that construction was a new way to facilitate communication between people. It is a catastrophe for any country if there is a gap in communication between people from different regions. In Kramatorsk, we felt that our physical presence there and concrete action were the tools which would help build trust between people who did not know each other and were even, to some extent, enemies,” said Yurko Didula.

The wall of an ATO veteran’s room on the outskirts of Berdiansk. Volunteers of the “Building Ukraine Together” movement set out to repair this apartment as well. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

A volunteer holds a sheet of wallpaper in an autistic boy’s room, which the volunteers of the “Building Ukraine Together” movement set out to renovate. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

A girl paints the ceiling in a Berdiansk apartment where an ATO soldier will live after the completion of the restoration by “Building Ukraine Together” volunteers. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

A tattoo in the image of the Crazy Hatter from Lewis Carrol’s “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland” on the arm of one of the volunteers. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

Volunteers are installing a ceiling in the annex of a house, which they are helping to complete building for a migrant from Donbas. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

A boy installs a block on the wall of an annex which the “Building Ukraine Together” movement is building for a Donbas refugee near Berdiansk. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

Donbas refugees Viktor and Nataliya Miroshnichenko pose along with their three children against the backdrop of their unfinished Berdiansk summer home, which became their permanent home as a result of the war. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

A woman named Tetiana holds her autistic grandson Maksym in her arms. Volunteers have taken on repairing one of the rooms in this family’s apartment. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

BUR has two main goals — providing all that is necessary for vulnerable, low-income groups and cultural institutions as well as mending cultural connections between people from different regions of Ukraine.

The BUR camp typically stays in each city for two weeks — two shifts of volunteers, each working for one full week. There is a complete ban on all alcohol and drug use. They wake up at 7 a.m., exercise, and eat breakfast. At 9 a.m., after the distribution of work sites, everyone leaves for their building. Work ends at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

In the evening, there is a mandatory cultural activity. In Berdiansk, this includes a tour of the city, a ride on the large Ferris wheel, salsa night by the seashore, a master class on folk arts, lectures about the psychology of interpersonal relationships, and so on.

Morning exercise before the beginning of the workday. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

Volunteers play a game on one of the Berdiansk beaches. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

A room in the dormitory where the “Building Ukraine Together” volunteers live throughout the week. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

At a party, before saying goodbye and departing from Berdiansk, a volunteer meets his “secret friend” — a person who was supposed to make small, secret gifts for him throughout their time in the camp. Each volunteer had such a “secret friend” who was chosen with a drawing at the beginning of their stay in the camp. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

Boys carry a generator and the “Building Ukraine Together” movement flag across the bay in Berdiansk after spending the night on the beach. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

Volunteers of the “Building Ukraine Together” movement sing the national anthem of Ukraine in the main square of Berdiansk during the ceremonies of the Flag day of Ukraine. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

Over these two weeks, the volunteers helped finish building the summer home of migrants Viktor and Nataliya Miroshnichenko from Zuhres, which became their permanent home because of the war. They insulated the apartment of Stanislav and Nadiya, who had taken in 6 foster kids from Ilovaisk, and renovated the apartment in which the autistic boy, Maksym, lives with his mother and grandmother. They also restored the home of a soldier named Oleksiy, who served in the 80th brigade and was injured near the Luhansk airport.

Additionally, in the local arts center, the “Academy of Handicrafts,” the volunteers helped repair the oven, install a window in the attic, and most importantly, complete a mural in the big room which had been left unfinished for 13 years.

Volunteers who are staying in the camp say goodbye to those who are going home. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

Volunteers sleep while riding in the trunk of a minibus to the Mariupol railway station, from which they will depart for their homes. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

Volunteers saying goodbye to each other in the evening by the fire at the Berdiansk base. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

Sunset over the Azov sea waterfront in Berdiansk. Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko

For me, this project is about, perhaps, the greatest virtue of young people — initiative, a desire to change the world around oneself, which, thanks to successful management, can bring tangible benefits to the entire nation. In the five years of BUR’s existence, 2800 volunteers joined the movement, helping to rebuild 214 homes and 52 public spaces in 62 Ukrainian cities. The numbers speak for themselves.

The material is prepared by

Photographer:

Oleksandr Khomenko

Photo editor:

Katya Akvarelna

Coordinator:

Natalia Ponedilok

Content manager:

Kristy Kravchenko

Translator:

Sofiya Malanchuk

Translation editor:

Maria Fomenko

Translation coordinator:

Maksym Sytnikov

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