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There is an urban-type settlement Yarova in Donetsk region. The seemingly ordinary settlement has an unusual distinction: eight hand-painted bus stop pavilions. Each has a separate image, even a whole canvas with the symbol of the village. And if you walk through the streets of Yarova, you can see other attractions that you will not find in neighboring villages. We have find out who is behind all these benefits and we will tell you now.


As it turned out, the new life of the village began thanks to the IDPs and the public organization “Mitsna Hromada” created by them in 2016.

Olena Hladka, the chairperson of the organization’s board tells:

– We lived in Donetsk, and here, in Yarova, we had a summer residence. We arrived in 2014 for the May holidays – and stayed forever. We have always been socially active, so we were not able to stay in Donetsk, it was risky. So, we became forced displaced persons. The peculiarity of the village is that there were many summer residents. Of course, they all came here when the war began. We lived and noticed that the locals were not doing anything for the village; no one was interested in anything outside their own yard. In 2015, my daughter went to study for a master’s degree in the UK. She looked at how public communities operate there, came here on vacation and said: “Let’s set up a public organization! Because that is the only way to unite people and get additional extra-budgetary funds for the community”. It so happened that all activities, including the creation of public organizations, were carried out mainly by migrants (besides our family, Natalia and Dmytro Hordiienko, Iryna Kashchytsyna and others) with the head of the village support, and then Oleh Bohuslavskyi, the village chief.

Activists of the public organization drew attention to two bus stop pavilions in the center of the village, which were painted by artist Olena Nahorna on her own initiative, a settler from Horlivka. They wanted all eight bus stops within Yarova have such a charming look. There was no money, but there was an idea.

– In 2017, the transformation of bus stops into art objects began. Again, with the support of Oleh Bohuslavskyi and local retired teacher Oleksandr Hrechko. They wrote three project applications. The British Council in Ukraine allocated money for the material support of the first two, and UNICEF for the rest. The whole process took almost a year and a half. The subject of the images was discussed together. Olena Nahornaya’s idea was a “strawberry” bus stop, because Yarova has always been considered the “strawberry capital” of Lyman district, a lot of this berry was grown here. Then there was a bus stop with a picture of fish, because Donets river is nearby, and there are many fishermen among the locals. We also have a lot of beekeepers, so there is a bus stop with a picture of bees. There are a forest around the village, a national nature park, so one of the pavilions depicts foxes and deer.


Photo: Facebook pages of the NGO “Mitsna Hromada” and Anhelina Shostak


Olena Nahorna was inspired to create her masterpieces, and local children ran and watched this magic with interest. Surprisingly, the artist had extra brushes and paints, and a free corner for children’s creativity…

Also, thanks to activists, columns with the names of streets and alleys appeared in Yarova, and signs with house numbers were installed.

– It was an urgent problem, because the layout of houses in the village is very complicated, – Olena Hladka says. – Now everything is clear. It helps a lot when calling an ambulance, police and emergency services. Also, thanks to the donation of UNDP and Lyman united territorial communities, we have achieved that we have street LED lighting in the darkest corners of Yarova, where there has never been light. Electricity consumption has decreased significantly, despite the fact that the number of lanterns has increased significantly. Floodlights aimed at the pavilions also illuminate all bus stops.


As part of transformation of bus stops into art objects, special bulletin boards were made so that no one would try to stick an advert onto the painting. But this did not stop the vandals. Some locals smashed both boards and columns with street names. However, there were people who resisted the destroyers. A man was even handed over to the police.

– Most do not understand how and why you can do something for free for others. Many still believe that we do all this for money. I want to change people’s attitudes to the environment so that they start to care about what is happening outside their fence.

Ms. Olena told about a master class on painting Easter eggs and a film club, which was created on the initiative of local teenagers, led by Karyna and Yaroslav Zhernovi. In the end, the members of the NGO “Mitsna Hromada” were invited to help other communities to implement projects, and they traveled to different cities of Ukraine to share their experiences.

Now there are several public organizations in Yarova, and the NGO “Mitsna Hromada” has scaled its work outside Donetsk region.

– Our organization is a partner of the British Council in eight regions of Eastern and Central Ukraine in the project “Strengthening cross-sectoral cooperation for social cohesion” with the support of the European Union. We organize competitions of social projects in communities and help to implement them. We are currently working with partners to develop online courses on how to carry out competently the project activities. We are working to increase the number of active citizens in Ukraine.

Unbelievable: the inhabitants of a small village in Donetsk region have become an example for the whole of Ukraine of how to change their living space to a brighter and friendlier one. Even the pace is not slow at all. There are many more new achievements in their plans, despite all the “why do you need it”.

Mykhailo VELYCHKO / Gromada Skhid No. 5 (38) 2021