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Boychuk's Clean-Up: How Debris from the Academy, Destroyed by a Russian Missile, Was Cleared

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Estimated Reading Time: 6 min

Russia Continues to Destroy Ukrainian Culture: On March 25th, fragments of a Russian missile struck the Mykhailo Boychuk Kyiv State Academy of Decorative and Applied Arts and Design, causing significant damage to the building.

In response, two days later, the academy’s students initiated the «Boychuk’s Clean-Up» campaign, aimed at removing debris surrounding the partially destroyed institution.

«Boychuk Academy is our home. We are a close-knit family here. Though we may be few in number, our strength lies in our unity and efficiency. When we recognized the need for action, we came together and got it done», — remarked Kostiantyn, a graduate of the academy and one of the event’s organizers.

In some areas, individuals are seen standing or sitting amidst the ruins, capturing the events with pencils or oil paints. In addition to the cleanup efforts, the students of the Academy organized a plein air session.

«This initiative was spearheaded by the student council and one of the teachers. Subsequently, the works produced will undergo a selection process, with the finest pieces being submitted for competition. We plan to hold an auction featuring these paintings, targeting foreign buyers. The proceeds generated will be allocated towards funding the restoration of the academy», — elaborates Anna, head of the Boychuk Academy’s student council.

The clean-up effort extended beyond three hours, drawing a significant turnout. Instead of just dozens, it attracted hundreds of concerned citizens to the academy at the scheduled time.

«I initially expected around 50 people, but there is such a large turnout…», — expressed one participant in surprise.

The crowd around the Academy comprised diverse individuals, including students from the Boychuk Academy and other educational institutions in Kyiv, alumni, academy staff, as well as adults and the elderly. Among them, the distinctive vests of the «Dobrobat» and «Brave» teams could be spotted here and there.

Some individuals are carrying metal fragments, while others focus on plastic debris. Some are dedicated to clearing bricks and rubble from the roadway, while others diligently collect pieces of broken windows, rake up glass shards, or remove thick logs and branches, organizing them into separate piles.

«We’ll have a lot of firewood», — remarks an employee of the academy.

Amidst the crowd, the air is filled with joyful shouts as friends spot each other. Old acquaintances embrace and engage in conversation. It’s not only current students but also alumni from different generations who have chosen to lend a hand to their alma mater.

«I used to study here. Oleksandr is my classmate and the headman. When the disaster struck, I made the decision to come and assist in clearing the ruins. Additionally, I hoped to reunite with some friends here», — says Yuriy.

People from other universities in Kyiv also decided to show their support for the students of the Boychuk Academy. Among them are Shevchenko University, KPI, and students from Grinchenko.

«For me, this is about culture. I’ve always been passionate about writing about it; it’s something that deeply interests me. The Boychuk Academy holds a special place in my heart. I could have pursued enrollment here myself, but circumstances didn’t align. That’s why I felt compelled to lend my support to this cause; it’s important», — explains student Victoria.

The history of the academy dates back to 1938, with the names of Maria Prymachenko, Marfa Tymchenko, and Ivan Honchar being closely associated with its subsequent development. The institution was renamed in honor of Mykhailo Boychuk, a prominent Ukrainian monumental artist who was executed by Soviet authorities in 1937.

The efforts around the Boychuk Academy won’t conclude this Saturday. There are still numerous stages remaining to clear the rubble and restore the educational institution.

«To my understanding, specialized equipment will persist in clearing the ruins. Due to safety concerns, it’s crucial for this task to be handled by professionals rather than volunteers. Once they’ve eliminated any hazards that could endanger us, and provide clearance for further dismantling of the debris, we’ll eagerly resume our work. Personally, I’m looking forward to it», — remarks Kostiantyn.

The latest updates on the restoration progress of the Boychuk Academy can be found on the institution’s Instagram page.

Throughout the full-scale war, Russia has inflicted damage upon or completely destroyed hundreds of cultural sites in Ukraine, including educational institutions, architectural monuments, museums, libraries, and theaters. Nevertheless, many of these sites are already undergoing restoration, thanks to state funds and support from Ukrainian or international foundations. One such example is the Chernihiv Rusov Library, situated within an architectural monument. On March 30, 2022, Russian forces severely damaged it during the bombing of the city. Presently, the destroyed section of the roof has been restored, and the windows replaced. Despite the damage, the library continues to operate, with further restoration efforts already planned.

All photos by: Mykhailo Tyunkin/Hromadske Radio

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