As the aroma of burnt debris looms in the air and the feeling of security is not yet restored, you wouldn’t expect to be met with a vibrant burst of techno music from a bombed-out shell of a community building.

But that’s exactly what is happening in Yahidne in northern Ukraine where a group of young Ukrainians are picking up their shovels to clean up the ruins left by war.

Russia invaded the country in February, with many major cities targeted by missiles and artillery fire – leaving large buildings reduced to dust.

Ukrainian youth organisation Repair Together have set up what they call “clean up raves”.

They invite DJs to play techno music as volunteers and locals work together to restore areas that were recently liberated from Russian occupation.

“We are rebuilding,” Darka Harnyk, one of the 200 volunteers who gathered at the House of Culture, tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

“It was the cultural centre that was burned down to the ashes, there were several walls left and we’ve been having a rave out there.”

People cleaning up rubble
Image caption,
The House of Culture used to be filled with choirs, crafts and carvings but is now filled with rubble, remains and wreckage
A clean up rave
Image caption,
The group combine techno parties and cleaning up
Darka, 22, says before the war she was able to “go out every weekend” and have raves that would run from Friday night to Monday morning.

But after seeing the devastation of the war and hearing about “this amazing idea of a rebuilding project”, she was keen to get involved.

“Cleaning the mess, taking the cement and making sure you could see the walls, that was our main goal,” Darka says.

“Doing techno parties and helping the world at the same time, helping Ukraine at the same time.”

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For Tania Burianova, one of the seven founders of Rebuild Together, seeing the big problems meant “wanting to help these people” who are in need.

Techno raves were a big part of the 26-year-old’s life, but without the chance to visit festivals and parties they’ve instead decided to bring the techno into their clean up.

“We invited DJs, and it was cleaning with music and this gave a lot of energy, motivation and inspiration for our volunteers,” she says.

Rubble and dust being cleared
Image caption,
When cities were liberated, the devastation left behind told Tania “it was not possible to live there”
So what’s next for Tania, Darka and the group?

“We’ve already cleaned three villages in one region and had nine events. We want to do it [clean] every week,” Tania says.

And with winter coming, they feel the challenges for those in the worst-affected areas will be greater so they need to do more.

“Our next plans are to build more than twelve houses in a village that we’ve already cleaned and maybe we can do more before the winter comes,” she says.