In early September 2023, German journalists visited the location in Moshchun where B50 volunteers had been working. Their report was published in DIE WELT. Here is what the German journalists saw, felt, and wrote about Moshchun and the B50 activists.
If you drive northwest from Kyiv, leaving Irpin, Hostomel, and Bucha behind, you will come to a road dotted with craters, leading along a branch of the Irpin River to the village of Moshchun, which had a population of a thousand before the russian invasion. The kremlin planned to use it as a base for Kyiv: russian special forces with the best military equipment were sent here and destroyed almost 80% of the houses before being stopped by Ukrainian troops.
About 100 russian “elite soldiers” were killed in the battle of Moshchun, which was supposed to take Kyiv in a few days and subjugate it to the russian terror regime. If not for Moshchun, the fighting would have reached the capital.
It is impossible not to notice the traces of the war in the village – there is no house that has not suffered from air raids or shelling to some extent. After the russian attack, Moshchun looks like a landscape of ruins, fences in need of repair, and piles of rubble piled up along the road.
About the location, the owner
In Moshchun, we meet Kateryna (the owner of the destroyed house). She is standing in the place where her family lived for many generations. Today, it’s just a pile of rubble.
The young woman recalls the old days in the now-destroyed apartment building where she grew up with her brother, who was taken prisoner by the russians in Mariupol on 12.04.2022. Kateryna’s father set up a woodworking workshop in one of the houses in the yard. In the garden, there was a swing and a gazebo nearby – the latter was hit by the first rocket.
Everything was made of wood, everything was burned. On March 10, there was nothing left…
Our “liberators” wanted to go through Moshchun to Kyiv. The location was favorable: my brother and I liked to ride our motorcycles through the local forest to Kyiv. The russians, thank God, did not reach there.
Immediately after Easter 2022, Kateryna saw Moshchun for the first time after the russian shelling:
The place is empty. Burnt and fallen trees everywhere. “This is our memory,” she says, pointing to the ruins.
It’s a weekend, a bright September day. Near Kateryna, a dozen people are clearing rubble and debris from the street. There are volunteers in the village who help clean up another destroyed house.
“Depending on the degree of destruction, it makes sense to demolish or preserve a part of the building – it’s a matter of safety,” explains B50 volunteer Bohdan. “If I don’t have a gun, I carry a shovel. Men are being drafted into the army, and sooner or later I will probably be drafted too.
Ruslan Habdulov, another B50 activist, talks about the importance of volunteering for the reconstruction of Ukraine:
Volunteerism is a cornerstone that keeps the country from military, political and social collapse… There are many different forms of volunteerism in the country today… The state cannot cope with the current situation alone… Solidarity and the work of civil society are a Ukrainian tradition. When disaster strikes, people feel needed and become more active. Only then do you think about how best to organize it.
The B50 community has been operating in Ukraine for over a year and a half and continues to develop its projects:
“We help people say goodbye to the past in order to build the future,” says Ruslan, who coordinates the project to reconstruct damaged housing. “Restoring areas affected by the fighting is an investment in the future. The war continues, but people also need to live. We support them in this.
The location visited by the German journalists is one of the largest locations where B50 volunteers have worked. B50 activists have visited the site 10 times. During this time, they dismantled the rubble and dismantled the walls of two houses, a summer kitchen, a shed, and a cellar.