ARA, or Animal Rescue Algarve – the Loulé-based charity that has done so much for animal welfare in its brief years of existence – is swinging into action in a bid to make a difference for war-torn Ukraine.
Organisers want to send two vans with a volunteer team, goods and funds to help NGOs in Poland working with displaced families and animals.
The decision came out of ARA’s ‘magic foil’: its volunteers over the last three years have often come from northern European countries.
Because of their experience at the shelter that has managed to rehome around 1,000 animals so far, these volunteers have ‘always kept in touch’ – some even returning to take part a second, even third time in the international workaway programme from which ARA has drawn its helpers since the very beginning (click here).
Since the Ukraine crisis blew up, these contacts have been reinforced, with the upshot being that concerned former volunteers in Poland and Germany have helped permanent staff in Loulé come up with this idea.
The vans would ideally be driven by Polish/ German speaking nationals, so that they can help with the whole effort.
The time-scale envisaged is a stay in Poland for roughly a month.
Says a release from the charity today, daily reports of this unbelievable crisis have described “scores of families in need of assistance as well as reports of animals being left behind”.
We have all seen the heartwarming images of people struggling with their belongings, and carrying small dogs and cats in carry-baskets. But for those with larger animals, the chaos and logistics of keeping hold of them in the developing humanitarian drama have been overwhelming.
ARA’s plan therefore is to send a team to Poland where it will meet back up with former volunteers, “assess the immediate humanitarian needs (with special focus on refugee children), as well as animal welfare necessities”.
The aim is to help as many children as possible through the acquisition of first-necessity goods, and/ or with travel within Poland and beyond.
On the animal welfare front, ARA will be supporting the work of national and international NGOs such as Fundacja ADA, DIOZ Dolnośląski Inspektorat, Ochrony Zwierząt, Schronisko Pegasus in Poland, and PETA in Germany.
To maximize impact, ARA is now actively fundraising to support its efforts in four key areas:
- The hire of vans in Poland: “a more cost-effective means of expanding the volunteer network on the ground” than driving vans from Portugal.
- Purchase of food, medicines, and other essential (nappies, hygiene products, etc), for both children and animals.
- Assisting local shelters with their immediate needs.
- Helping with running expenses (gas, food, etc).
Today’s press release stresses that ARA is “extremely thankful for the support it has been receiving from its Workaway network, and wants to be able to make a difference during these exceptionally trying times”.
The scope and impact of the plan will depend on how much money can be raised.
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