2018 – visiting Ukraine
After six years I went to Ukraine again last week. I will write more about that whole trip later. Over the years I brought two beautiful dogs from Ukraine, Izabella who is six years old now and sleeping next to me as I type this and Buddha, who had been with me for twelve years.
The dogs I’ve seen used to have it pretty bad in Ukraine, they were either kept as living alarm systems in the yard or just left on the street. While the ones that founded their own street gangs seemed quite happy and there were always some grandmothers feeding them too, there was lots of puppies just dumped in trash cans and no where to take them.
So I was excited to hear that the first dog and cat shelter opened in Uzhhorod a couple of years ago. They are called Barbos, you can find them on Facebook and they have a really lovely website too.
“And they are doing amazing work. The whole shelter is run by volunteers, most of them young monthers, many also work in other jobs. Natalia, who I know from our common volunteering at summer camps for Roma children in Uzhhorod is one of those volunteers. She’s an English teacher by profession and in her free time organizes English speaking practice clubs for children in Uzhhorod donating the participation fee to support the shelter. She also goes to schools to tell them about the shelter and to talk about animals and they do a lot of work on public events.
She had a lot of very smart things to say that I can’t all share here, but one point she made really stuck with me. She was talking about the difficulty of getting volunteers involved and that they are looking at other organizations that have a lot of volunteers and get a lot of donations to see which of their tactics they can implement for Barbos.
She told me that it was very interesting to see how those people who are already volunteering for one organization go all out and also support others. At said public events they are the first ones that make donations for other organizations and some of the bigger organizations also share their collected donations with them: “If you have a heart that’s open, it can beat for many causes.”
So if your heart beats for cats and dogs please get in touch with them and support their great work! Or go and volunteer at a shelter near you. Or adopt a pet if you have the space and time.
PS: One of the dogs I got to meet here had been adopted by a nice family a couple of weeks ago. They took him home to a village quite far away from the shelter. That same night the shelter received a call by the new owners, that told them that the dog had run away from their house. For two days and nights they searched for him everywhere, until he finally stood in front of the shelter again.
He lives there now.
What Do You Do When There’s a War and neo-Nazis in Ukraine?
Are there neo-Nazis in Ukraine? It’s a scary feeling to have a war so close to home, something that I never hoped to experience. As a sensitive child who has heard many horrible stories about the first two world wars from my great-grandma and my grandparents, it was always my biggest fear.
I still remember the panic I had when I saw submarines practising in the Baltic Sea in the nineties when the war was going on in Yugoslavia and how I couldn’t stop crying. And how my Mum kept saying that it wasn’t here, that they’re not fighting here, but how I was unable to feel that separation.
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