War in Ukraine: Volunteers repair houses damaged by Russian shelling

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By euronews  with EBU
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Twenty-four houses were destroyed across the Zaporizhzhia region on December 29 as a result of Russian shelling. Fortunately, no one was injured. 

In the village of Stepne, Liudmyla Kaptolova's home was damaged as a result of a Russian missile. Windows were blown out, interior doors were torn out and the roof was damaged. The roof of the outbuildings was also damaged.

But not all is lost. Ukrainian civilians are not only volunteering to defend their country, but they're also offering to help rebuild it. Members of the volunteer construction battalion "Dobrobat" started working in Stepne shortly after the missile attack. 

Although many of the volunteers are learning as they go, their help is very much appreciated.

"They removed the slate completely, then the village council brought boards, rails. They are repairing the rafters there, and now they are covering it, the village council gave a tarpaulin, and the boys are covering it," says Kaptolova.

In the first few days, they were dismantling the rubble and removing debris. Now they are focused on repair work. Currently, eight volunteers from the construction battalion work at this facility – and they're reaching out to anyone in need.

"We have a Telegram channel, and a website where people who want to take part in the restoration can join," says Andrii Razin, the head volunteer of the Dobrobat battalion. "Also, people can leave an application there if they need help. They can describe the nature of the destruction, and we then decide how we can help." 

More reconstruction across eastern Ukraine

Elsewhere in Kharkiv, similar efforts at reconstruction can be seen. The entrance to a house in the city centre, which was destroyed by a Russian missile, has been restored.

In July, as a result of a strike, six floors collapsed, trapping an elderly woman under the rubble. Now she is cleaning the already rebuilt apartment.

"At 4 am I got up and went to the bathroom because I was covered with rubble," Valentyna Popovichuk tells reporters. "I was covered with rubble even on the bed. I went to the bathroom, and there was already a gap in the bathroom, everything collapsed."

When the missile hit the entrance, only Valentyna was inside - her neighbours had left the house earlier. Now the woman lives with relatives.

Restoration work in this house began in the fall, the builders have already erected walls. In 2022, the company restored 64 damaged houses in Kharkiv.

Although examples like these are huge success stories for those on the ground, the bigger picture is that reconstruction across the country will take years. Repair costs are racking up in the ballpark of hundreds of billions of euros, including for environmental damage.