Building Ukraine Together (BUR) is a program of the Ukrainian Education Platform (2000 – 2001 Lviv Education Foundation (LEF)) that creates opportunities for youth to make changes in their country through volunteering. It is conducted in a format of a volunteer camp composed of volunteers from all parts of Ukraine, Russia, EU and the US who help Ukrainians affected by the war started in 2014 rebuild their homes.
Since the February 24, 2022 russian invasion and now full scale war, BUR immediately responded to support thousands of internally displaced families who fled to western Ukraine. Today, they are helping to renovate infrastructure, building shelter camps of IDPs, and offering humanitarian aid across Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Chernihiv.
BUR became an official Razom Partner in 2016 to help them carry out and scale their volunteer camps. Razom is working with BUR leadership to promote the project in the US, find volunteers from abroad, and help fundraise. Since February 2022, Razom has provided BUR with two grants totaling $350,000 to support their work for internally displaced people in Ukraine and collaborate with their volunteers on our own Emergency Response Project.
The BUR project started in 2014 – thousands of hryvnias were raised through a crowd-sourcing platform and more than 30 houses and apartments were renovated free of charge that year. In the summer of 2016, more than 400 volunteers from Ukraine, Russia, and the United States joined the Building Ukraine Together effort. Over forty houses and apartments belonging to war veterans and families were rebuilt. In addition to providing assistance to families, volunteers conducted public activities to attract more local youth and spread the idea of personal responsibility. The volunteers renovated and constructed public spaces, painted thought-provoking graffiti, and cleaned the streets.
During the first camp in Kramatorsk, volunteers rented a house with a garden in the suburbs and invited young locals to join them for bonfires, movie screenings, and evening discussions. This improvised youth hub attracted dozens of teenagers from Kramatorsk and the neighboring city of Slovyansk. Since those towns lacked a cultural center where young people could gather, the LEF team created a permanent youth center called Vilna Khata , or Freedom Home. In December of 2016, it celebrated two years of operation. Since 2014, Freedom Home has inspired dozens of visitors from other regions, resulting in the creation of 14 more youth hubs throughout Ukraine including in Pokrovsk, Bakhmut, Novohrodivka, Kostiatynivka, Mariupol, Rubizhne, Severodonetsk, Slovyansk, Druzhkivka, Pavlohrad, Chervonohrad, Vinnytsia, and Enerhodar.
Building on our successful community engagement and volunteer exchange programs, in 2018, LEF will organize approximately 28 week-long volunteer camps in different regions of Ukraine. Approximately 1000 volunteers representing 25 Ukrainian regions will participate in the 28 camps, which will take place from late March through September. Over the course of the week, the daily schedule will consist of three blocs of activities: public service, civic education, and social integration. All three will be designed to foster civic activism, team building and mutual understanding – both among the visiting volunteers and the native populations. The public service activities will range from cleaning up rivers and national parks to reconstructing schools and private buildings. The programs will emphasize engaging representatives from the local communities in all activities.
The project’s strength comes from the fact that most of the service camp’s participants have zero experience in civic activism. After one-two weeks, they go through an intensive training in responsible citizenship and return to their towns with ideas, teams, and project implementation plans. LEF uses volunteer activities as an educational tool to teach young people responsibility, practical action, and teamwork.
If you’d like to spend a summer or week volunteering with Building Ukraine Together email Yurko Didula at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By engaging young people in small service projects that have an educational-cultural component to them, we plan this this project to foster volunteer movement, make Ukrainian society more mobile and open-minded, and promote participation in Ukraine regions.