“We want fewer animals to be homeless, we want to find a home for everyone”
Participants of the UPSHIFT programme have united to help animals in Kropyvnytskyi
When the full-scale war broke out in Ukraine last year, the city of Kropyvnytskyi became a sanctuary for animals evacuated from dangerous regions. Now, with the city’s two shelters full, many are homeless and living on the streets.
However, local youngsters are teaming up to solve the problem, with the help of the UPSHIFT programme, run by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“We want fewer animals to be homeless, we want to find a home for everyone. We are trying to encourage people to care about the animals.”
Two projects have been created as part of the programme, which aims to empower young people to improve their local communities.
KotoPes (CatDog) engages in awareness-raising activities with children and adults, and collects donations for one of the shelters.
Meanwhile, Ark helps volunteers to evacuate animals from dangerous areas of Ukraine, purchasing carriers for small dogs and cats, as well as medicine and food kits. Together, the teams are even helping one of the shelters to build additional enclosures, where the animals can live in quarantine on arrival.
“We saw a lot of information about animals left behind without owners, losing their homes because of the war. The members of our team bring different experiences with them. We are united by our desire to help these animals. If we manage to save at least one animal within the scope of the project, it will not be in vain.”
The Upshifters also decided to partner with a team from another field – Space Medias. The participants of this team are media savvy and have created their own platform. Together, the teams organised a photo shoot at one of the city’s animal shelters, in the hope that animals with good pictures will be more likely to quickly find a new home. Photos of the animals will be shared on social networks. In future, Space Medias plans to create an exhibition of these photos. And the youngsters’ ideas do not stop there.
“We have illustrators in the team. Therefore, we decided to create a comic about the evacuated dog Buddy from Bakhmut,” says Maria, a member of the Ark team. “The dog came to Kropyvnytskyi and found shelter here. The members of the Space Medias team helped with the text of the comic, and the members of KotoPes helped with dissemination.”
Cooperation with other teams is very important,” adds Sofia Balakh, a member of the KotoPes team. “We learn each other’s experience. For example, members of the Ark team are older than us. They have more experience, think more globally. Therefore, when we discuss future plans together, we receive honest feedback on the pros and cons of our project. And we also get energy from our peers, it motivates us to move forward.”
The UPSHIFT programme has been in effect in the Kirovohrad region since August 2022. Since then, over 300 young people have joined, and 80 teams have received funding for their projects.