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London – 18 October 2022 – A Ukrainian citizen is one of the first international winners to be recognised with a special award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) at the House of Lords, London, honouring her work to help rescue centres in war-torn Ukraine.
Marina Bayeva, leapt into action to respond to the crisis unfolding in her native country when it was invaded by Russia. Her mother, who volunteers at an animal shelter in Dnipro Province in the east of Ukraine, alerted Marina to the issue that shelters were desperately struggling to cope. Due to language barriers, many shelters were also not able to request help. Marina, who speaks English fluently, reached out to NGOs for help, and started working with various shelters to compile data on their needs. When help was needed on the Polish-Ukrainian border, through Marina’s professional network, she was able to locate students to help at the crossings with translation services.
Initially, Marina’s aim was to meet immediate needs for food and medication but has now expanded to raising funds for the neutering of dogs and cats and to support many shelters who are having to build additional enclosures to take in animals that have been rescued from conflict zones or abandoned. As Dnipro is a hub for refugees passing through the country, many animals have sadly been left behind as people have fled to the area with their pets in tow, before realising it wouldn’t be possible to take them further.
Marina, who is originally from Dnipro but now resides in Massachusetts, USA, worked directly with seven local shelters to collect information and help them complete grant requests. She continues to proactively reach out to animal shelters to offer assistance, and also helps to secure food supplies for shelter and stray animals across Ukraine. She has successfully raised over $26,000 through her own fundraising efforts, and in addition to this, has secured grants to help too.
Marina said: ““The crisis in Ukraine is far from being over, and after eight long months – people are tired. But at the rescue centres, life goes on. The staff and volunteers have made the choice to stay to care for the animals that desperately need them, despite the threat of bombs and destruction creeping closer and closer. As we head towards winter, this will be the next major challenge. Many of the animals that are coming in now are very sick with a lot of medical needs, meaning they need additional care.
James Sawyer, UK Director of IFAW, said: “Marina has resourcefully put her skills to best use from afar, making the most of her family, existing connections, and language skills, to get help to places where it’s needed the most.
The situation in Ukraine is tragic – for humans and animals, but in the face of terror, Marina has found a way to overcome a sense of helplessness and do something immensely positive. She is truly a champion for Ukraine, the people and animals and is a worthy winner of the International Emergency Response Award.
Dnipro Province has suffered from heavy shelling, and the shelters still accepting animals are extremely stretched. Some animals are being shipped abroad for rescue and treatment, in places such as France, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Marina added: ““The people working at the centres are the unsung heroes – their work might not be full of glory – but they are dedicated and consistent. They show up to work - day after day, often doing the mundane tasks such as feeding, cleaning and caring for the animals – but it’s all just as important.”
Marina receives his award at IFAW’s prestigious Animal Action Awards event at the House of Lords on October 18.
Notes to editors