Just steps from rush-hour traffic on kyiv’s bustling Taras Shevchenko Boulevard, a handful of retirees trimmed bushes in a peaceful green oasis.
“They started coming when the war broke out,” said Natalia Belemets, the curator of this small botanical garden. “They wanted to help.”
AV Fomin Botanical Garden is one of the oldest in Ukraine. It has almost two centuries of being located in the center of the Capital, kyiv.
Garden staff were encouraged to leave Kiev or work remotely when Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. But soon after, The need for seasonal work and maintenance of the garden arose, so the volunteers organized themselves on social networks.
“This botanical garden is a pearl of kyiv, a green jewel in the center of the City,” Belemets said one recent morning.
Volunteers do simple garden work, such as digging, gathering branches and watering. At one point, there were about 20 volunteers working once a week. Today, that number has fallen as people have returned to full-time jobs.
However, new faces always arrive. As Belemets spoke, two women arrived and were led into a bush by a longtime volunteer. They went to work immediately, one of the women plucking branches from a low bush, a brown leather bag slung over her shoulder.
Svetlana Sitko, 62, has volunteered at the garden since April 2022, when the horrors unleashed on the Kiev suburbs by Russian troops, including Bucha, in their failed attempt to take the Capital were just beginning to become apparent. .
“After Bucha, after kyiv, we had to do something,” Sitko declared with a sigh.
Her hands, clad in blue gardening gloves, gesticulated animatedly as she talked about the orchard she and her husband have planted in their country house on the outskirts of Kiev: pears, apple trees, blackberries, blueberries and honeysuckle.
Sitko, a retired child psychologist, said that when she left the garden, she changed out of her purple leggings and dirty dirt shoes and headed off to another wartime volunteer job: making camouflage leggings for snipers.
Her husband, Yuri, tended to some flowers nearby. He is a true gardener, Sitko added. Married for 36 years, they were born four years apart on February 24. That’s the same date that Russia launched its all-out invasion last year.
In May 2022, a soldier arrived at the garden with his wife and young son in his arms, she recalled. The soldier told her that she had a few hours off and that he wanted to see “something beautiful” with her family.
“I definitely think these guys on the front lines really need this,” Sitko said. “They will return after the war.”
The New York Times
BBC-NEWS-SRC: http://www.nytsyn.com/subscribed/stories/6812665, IMPORTING DATE: 2023-07-20 22:30:07
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