Since the first days of the operation of B50, we have been actively working to popularize the project and attract new volunteers. In 2023, the accumulated ideas grew into a full-fledged program with the ambitious goal of popularizing not only volunteering with B50, but also recovery volunteering in Ukraine in general.
The first project in this area was interviews with our activists, who are interesting and extraordinary people. Over time, we began to build other projects, primarily media projects, aimed at broader popularization of volunteering at the national and international levels.
Currently, the following projects are implemented within the framework of the Country of Volunteers:
- Interview #heroes of B50.
- Corporate Volunteering with B50
- Photo exhibition Stronger than bricks
- Photo exhibition Chronicles of the Unknown
Despite the fact that the program is new, we managed to accomplish a lot in 2023, including engaging employees of several companies in corporate volunteering with the B50, publishing 19 interviews with B50 activists, and our photos visiting 15 Ukrainian and 3 European cities.
Interview #heroes of B50
The media project was launched in 2022, when we realized that people often start volunteering because of the example of their relatives/friends/acquaintances. Since then, #heroesB50 has been broadcasting the stories of people who have decided to systematically engage in recovery volunteering. The focus is on the B50 activists who took up shovels, wheelbarrows, grinders, spatulas, rollers, and paintbrushes to restore housing and life in the liberated communities. These are people of different ages, with different life experiences and worldviews, but with an extraordinary reflection on the present and future of Ukraine.
To reach a wider audience, we publish interviews in English and share these stories on our social media channels.
In this media project, we tell the stories of different people with different backgrounds, skills and talents. This way, we show that everyone can help. The B50 community offers various types of volunteering: rubble removal, animal care, repair of houses and public spaces, and decorating children’s bomb shelters. You can also volunteer with us remotely, helping with administrative work or, for example, organizing exhibitions.
In addition to the “classic” interviews, we recorded blitz interviews with foreign volunteers who participated in the B50 events, and on the Day of Defenders of Ukraine, with volunteers from our community who stood up to defend the country.
Corporate Volunteering with B50
The project engages entire staff teams in volunteering and helps them organize such activities:
- cleaning up the destruction in the Kyiv region;
- reconstruction of damaged buildings;
- decorating children’s bomb shelters in educational institutions;
- support for animal shelters;
- team fundraising to purchase educational children’s literature to be donated to libraries.
Back in 2022, we involved corporate teams in B50 events (several teams cleared the rubble in Kyiv region with us). In 2023, we spun off this activity into an independent project, so now we help teams that want to try themselves in volunteering and use this experience as a useful team building activity.
In 2023, Glovo and Gravity joined the corporate volunteering with CleanUp! project, and employees of the Estonian Embassy celebrated World Cleanup Day with us for the second time at the rubble cleaning in Moshchun. Employees of Adler Lacke Ukraine joined the Reconstruction project and helped with the repair of a children’s shelter in Vorzel, which was later decorated with drawings by volunteers from the Shelters. Melexis-Ukraine employees joined the P.AGE project, collecting books and money to form a set of literature for the Ivankiv Public Library.
Stronger than bricks in 2023
Stronger than bricks is a traveling media project about B50 volunteers. It appeared in the spring of 2023, after our community celebrated its first anniversary. We had the idea to showcase the work of B50 activists and thus popularize volunteering among Kyiv residents and visitors, inspiring them by example. At the same time, we wanted to demonstrate that such help is needed and that volunteerism in recovery is moral support for the affected families.
The exhibition consists of photographs taken by community volunteers. The photographs show not only B50 activists at work, but also objects that come across during the rubble removal, mute witnesses of a past life that was destroyed. The photos were taken in Moshchun and Irpin during the first year of volunteering.
The project was launched in the capital, on the popular glass pedestrian and bicycle bridge, on the occasion of Kyiv Day. For a month, it was simultaneously exhibited in VCENTRI HUB coworking spaces in Obolon, Shevchenkivskyi, and Holosiivskyi districts.
After that, the exhibition went on a journey across Ukraine, sometimes exhibiting in several cities and locations at the same time. The purpose of the trip is to show people all over Ukraine that despite the war, life goes on, and we need to rebuild it now, to help and support each other. We also want to inspire Ukrainians with the resilience of active Kyiv residents and those living in the capital’s agglomeration, and motivate them to join the recovery volunteer movement.
In the summer, Stronger than bricks visited Ternopil, Lviv, Kremenchuk, Vinnytsia, Chernihiv, Rivne, Kamianets-Podilskyi, and Mukachevo.
The photos of B50 volunteers were exhibited in parks (Ivan Franko Park in Lviv, Taras Shevchenko Square in Ternopil), museums ( Museum of Vinnytsia, Rivne Regional Museum of Local Lore), palaces (Palace of Culture and Arts in Mukachevo, City Palace of Culture in Lviv), tourist hubs, even in the library (in Kremenchuk), city council (in Vinnytsia) and in the windows of popular shopping malls (Chernihiv TSUM)!
The most picturesque location was in Kamianets-Podilskyi. Here, B50 photographs were placed near one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ukraine – on the observation deck near the Fortress.
In the autumn, the exhibition visited Chernivtsi, Kropyvnytskyi, Khmelnytskyi, Dnipro, and Kharkiv. The most beautiful place where the B50 photographs were exhibited was in Chernivtsi, in front of the central building of the Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University.
Stronger than bricks will spend the winter in Ivano-Frankivsk. Here, the B50 photographs will be exhibited until the end of February 2024.
The Stronger than bricks media project was written about and featured in numerous articles, reports and stories: TyKyiv covered the exhibition in Kyiv, Soroka – in Ternopil, Tvoemisto.tv – in Lviv, Telegraf.in.ua – in Kremenchuk. Vita TV aired a story about the exhibition in Vinnytsia, and Suspilne Vinnytsia hosted a conversation about “Stronger than bricks” with a representative of B50.
Sfera TV and Suspilne Rivne aired stories about the photo exhibition in Rivne, and singer and volunteer Khrystyna Panasiuk visited and performed at the opening. In Chernivtsi, TVA and Chernivetskiy Promin covered Stronger than bricks, and in Kropyvnytskyi, Suspilne Kropyvnytskyi and Holos Ukrainy.
in museums and centers
on the road
It is impossible to count the number of people who have seen these photos, as they were exhibited for 10 months in total during 2023. At different locations in different parts of the country, different people visited Stronger than bricks and were inspired by the tireless work of the recovery volunteers.
In 2024, we plan to continue the photo exhibition, taking it to several new Ukrainian cities in the spring and finishing it by the next anniversary of the community. We hope that this year, the first B50 media project will fulfill its mission to popularize the volunteer movement in Ukraine, in particular recovery volunteering, to inspire and motivate people to join in helping the victims and rebuilding the country.
Chronicles of the Unknown
Superheroes Ukrainians in 2023
The Chronicles of the Unknown
Superheroes Ukrainians media project is dedicated to the B50 volunteers who do their regular work during the week and volunteer on weekends, helping residents of the Kyiv region return to normal life (as much as possible in a full-scale war).
After the successful launch of Stronger than bricks, we realized that we can (and should) broadcast relevant information and important ideas through the photo exhibition outside of Ukraine. The main theme of Chronicles of the Unknown
Superheroes Ukrainians is to show the horrific consequences of the enemy invasion and the work of the B50 volunteers, ordinary people who are helping to lead the way. In doing so, we want to not only demonstrate how the war is affecting Ukraine but also enlist the support of the world. We also want to show that we, as a nation, are not sitting still and are ready to help each other.
We created a photo story – a story of a day in the life of the B50 community. This is a regular volunteer day, the destroyed Moshchun we know so well, ordinary people of different ages and professions who turn into volunteers to help others. We showed the work we are used to doing – dismantling the rubble of houses and repairing and decorating bomb shelters in children’s educational institutions.
The exhibition was created as a series of posters that gradually tell our story. It is supplemented with descriptions in Ukrainian and English, as well as in the language of the country where it is exhibited, although captions under the photos are generally unnecessary – everything is clear without words…
In the autumn, Chronicles of the Unknown
Superheroes Ukrainians began its journey across Europe. The exhibition was first presented in Georgia, at the opening of the Ukrainian House, which will serve as a community center, operational office and center for various socio-economic services for Ukrainian citizens who sought refuge in Georgia during the full-scale devastating war unleashed by russia.
opening of the Ukrainian House
The Ukrainian House is also a center of cultural exchange. The events that take place here contribute to the integration and growth of Georgian-Ukrainian relations. The first such event was the B50 photo exhibition, which showed Tbilisi residents and visitors the devastating consequences of the war, as well as the strength and unity of the Ukrainian people.
Place des Nations
The next European stop for Chronicles of the Unknown
Superheroes Ukrainians was in Geneva. On October 5, throughout the day, in front of the UN headquarters in Europe, one could see photos that consistently reveal the story of one working day of B50 activists. Stanislav Hrytsan, a B50 Friend, helped organize the exhibition.
The next to host the B50 exhibition was the Lithuanian town of Alytus. The official opening took place on October 30 with the participation of the local administration, volunteers and B50 activists, who spoke about the exhibited photos, presented the activities of the community, and handed over official gratitude to Lithuanians on behalf of our organization for their care and support of Ukraine.
In early 2024, the exhibition began in Vilnius, at the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights. The Chronicles of the Unknown
Superheroes Ukrainians exhibition is planned for several other European cities. In particular, on the occasion of the second anniversary of russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the exhibition will open in Hamburg (near the Mahnmal St. Nikolai) and Budapest (at Bakáts Square, located in Pest, in the 9th district of Budapest).
During 2024, we plan to visit as many countries as possible with Chronicles of the Unknown
Superheroes Ukrainians so that as many people as possible can see the scale of the destruction caused by the russian invasion, as well as feel the resilience and courage of Ukrainians who are united and helping each other in this difficult time.
Ruslan Habdulov, director of the B50 NGO, on the Country of Volunteers in general and Chronicles of the Unknown
We actively involve volunteers in our projects, so it was a logical step for B50 to start working on media projects that promote volunteering. In Ukraine, we set out to demonstrate unity and mutual support in these difficult times and to encourage others to take action.
Our foreign project has additional meanings as well – to show that Ukrainians are not waiting for external help, sitting on their hands, but are doing everything possible to support each other. I am very pleased when these meanings are easily read and shared by our partners abroad, which means we did everything right.
In the future, we plan to continue to develop the project and popularize recovery volunteering, as we are a country of volunteers.