The small town of Borodianka, located in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, has become an emblem of resistance and hope. A poignant mural by the elusive artist Banksy—a ballerina dancing atop debris—captures the town’s determination to rise from the rubble. Yet, beyond the newfound fame, it’s the town’s own cultural leaders who are weaving the fabric of revival.
Natalia Vyshynska, at the helm of Borodianka’s cultural department for nearly 20 years, has been instrumental in orchestrating a series of public gatherings filled with music and art, a prelude to the concerts that will celebrate the town’s eventual victory. Despite the cultural center’s scars from shelling and its proximity to homes destroyed in March 2022, Vyshynska’s commitment to her community’s cultural identity has never wavered.
The war has left deep marks on Borodianka, with 18 of its 26 cultural establishments damaged or destroyed. Precious instruments and artifacts, including a historic violin, were lost to the conflict. Yet, the community’s resolve to rebuild and remember stands strong.
Before the invasion, Vyshynska and her team were modernizing cultural institutions and empowering residents with skills ranging from fashion to digital literacy. Now, they are piecing together the remnants of their cultural landscape, even as many residents have fled to safety.
Those who return, often in their middle years, are greeted by the sounds of choirs that have found their voices again, despite personal losses. Public events, though sometimes met with mixed feelings, offer a space for collective healing and remembrance.
The cultural revival extends to the youth, with psychologists working alongside artists to help children process their fears through creative expression. Local historian Valentyn Moiseenko and artist Svitlana Vyskochy are among those contributing to the town’s healing, sharing stories of survival and teaching the art of pysanka, traditional decorated eggs.
Borodianka’s cultural pulse beats on, symbolized by pins declaring its vibrancy, and supported by international aid. The IOM’s initiatives are helping to refurbish a local museum, equip a library, and provide a tent for cultural activities in war-affected areas.
As Borodianka rebuilds, it’s not just the structures that are being restored, but also the spirit of a community that refuses to let its culture be another casualty of war.