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APRIL 2024 Ukraine Crisis update

APRIL 2024 Ukraine Crisis update

Fundraising with one eye smiling and one eye crying

An honest, raw and emotional update from ROLDA Founder Dana Costin
The war’s horror bled across borders, and as ROLDA stood witness to this unfathomable suffering, like many shocked others, we dashed to offer hope amidst the chaos. We share our soil with Ukraine – they are our brethren in distress, a mere heartbeat away from our base in Galati, Romania.

In 2022, a torrent of desperate souls surged through Poland and Romania, seeking refuge from their ravaged homeland. You could see in their eyes the anguish of being separated from their cherished animals, who were often left to fend for themselves in the onslaught.

Our small team reached out at the border, distributing leaflets translated into Ukrainian to help refugees whose companions bore paws and claws to get veterinary assistance if they needed it.

When the exodus diminished, we continued to help Ukrainians by providing repeated grants to those brave rescuers who chose not to flee but to stay home and help animals amidst the ruins, bombs and bullets.

The rescuers – heroes cloaked in humility – face a daily gauntlet of extreme poverty, makeshift shelters teeming with the lost and the wounded, and a dearth of necessities. Yet, their spirits remain unbroken.

Two years have etched deep lines of worry on my ROLDA Rescue Team’s faces, but what they endure pales in comparison to the tribulations faced by our Ukrainian allies. Overwhelmed yet undeterred, they’re tirelessly expanding a lifeline that stretches across a nation scarred by conflict. And I am immensely proud of them for it.

Of course, none of this would be possible without you and other caring animal lovers who have risen to the challenge of helping to fund this urgent, essential work. Choosing and sharing a glimpse of the stories they are exposed to is an emotionally draining role for my ROLDA team, but it is an essential one to draw attention to the suffering of abandoned dogs and cats. And, thankfully, what can be done to help them.

For full transparency, ROLDA started creating monthly reports showing what we do in Ukraine, whom we are helping, and where. The ROLDA annual report summarises the entire activity for the past year and highlights the most important moments.

Our social media, website, and email updates always present facts, frequent updates, and examples to explain what ROLDA is doing. As a result, the amazing support from the international community enables us to continue assisting over 40 brave animal rescuers all over Ukraine.

Recently, we managed to send a new grant to Aleksey in Kherson, Ukraine. I met Aleksey in person last fall during my brief visit to Ukraine. We travelled together (accompanied by a soldier) in the “grey zone” where many animals were trapped (abandoned, scared, hiding) in houses destroyed by bombs and drones. Land mines make it very dangerous to move around villages here.

I didn’t think travelling to Ukraine would affect me as much as it did. I had sleepless nights thinking of the senseless harm people can inflict on each other and animals. In almost 20 years of running ROLDA, I have seen a lot of shocking injuries and behaviour, but the painfully hard reality which I noticed with my own eyes in Ukraine and which I will never forget.

The moment Aleksey pleaded for anti-mine gear, my world stood still. The sheer absurdity of such a need in a mission to save abandoned souls sent a shiver through my core.

One can understand how the Ukrainian situation worsened by observing how the Ukrainians’ requests to ROLDA changed over time. They went from asking for food to medical equipment and then heavy anti-mine equipment that would enable people to continue going into war zones to rescue dogs and cats. This is a dramatic change.

During my visit to Kherson, I saw various signs warning people about mined areas. I remember taking photos sitting near these signs. We all smiled and kept calm, but I know each of us had a lot on our minds behind those smiles.

During my visit to Ukraine, I was most shocked by people’s adaptability and how life goes on while rockets fly above their heads and houses. While their lives were falling apart, their families were crumbling. I met people showing me their pets in the most natural way while the noise of rockets hitting targets didn’t disturb anyone anymore.

The news of Aleksey’s shooting and the loss of one of his brave drivers is a stark reminder of the high stakes faced by those who dare to care in Ukraine. And when caring people like yourself recognise their bravery and offer financial support, the ROLDA Rescue Team is also inspired to do everything possible.

When we delivered aid to Aleksey to acquire the anti-mine equipment, one of my eyes smiled, knowing that fulfilling his wish would help many more animals. But my other eye cried, remembering my memories from Ukraine and understanding that, now, the situation is much worse.

Some people might be exhausted from hearing about Ukraine and choose to look the other way. But we passed a point of no return when we met and became allies with the Ukrainian animal rescuers who remained there—losing family members or their houses, often living in ruins without windows, heating, or flowing water.

Some voices say that Ukraine might lose the war and the consequences will be terrible. All I know is that right now, some brave souls dress in anti-mine equipment and rescue terrified animals from the most dangerous war zones.

No natural disaster, earthquake, or tsunami caused this situation to happen. What people do to each other and to what surrounds them is what causes this situation to happen.

This latest grant request for Aleksey was heartbreaking for me to fund. My heart cries for Ukraine and their animals. I hope that this nightmare will be over soon.

If you would like to help the abandoned, injured and terrified dogs and cats in Ukraine, please donate to ROLDA or consider becoming a monthly supporter. Just $5 from 80 monthly donors allows us to provide 960 highly nutritious food portions.

Thank you for letting me share this heartfelt update with you. I appreciate your taking the time to read it.

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