two Luxembourgers helping animals
Christophe and Antonio, two friends from Luxembourg, spent a few days on the Ukrainian-Polish border to help the animals, collateral victims of the conflict.
They are returning from a one-week journey of around 3,000 kilometres. From April 17 to 23, Christophe Mendes and Antonio Marques went to Poland, to Medyka more exactly where one of the border crossings with Ukraine is located. On the spot, they gave a helping hand in a shelter collecting abandoned and injured animals, victims of the Russian invasion. “It was my second trip there,” says Christophe Mendes. “I went there for the first time with a fellow photographer to document and show the reality.” Since the start of the conflict, Medyka has been one of the meeting points for many volunteers from all over the world, who have come to help refugees fleeing the war. During his stay, Christophe meets someone who tells him about this camp which, as for humans, collects animals. “I went there to help them.”
Chests loaded with 400 kilos of food
Barely back in the Grand Duchy, the desire to leave for Medyka quickly made itself felt, but this time in a more planned way. He therefore decides to call for donations on instagram to recover water for food, animals and medical equipment. “In one week, I received so many things that I had no more room in my car!” So he calls his friend Anthony to ask him to accompany him with his own vehicle. “But even there we had trouble loading everything, we had to fold down the seats! We don’t have the words to pay homage to people, ”explains the latter.
Leaving Luxembourg at night, the trunks loaded with 400 kilos of food, 450 liters of water and various equipment, the duo arrived in Medyka the next day. “As I had already come, contact was quickly established with the people in the camp and we were able to unload our cars.” Thanks to the Centaurus Foundation, the shelter can accommodate Ukrainian animals, mainly dogs, and provide them with the necessary care. “They go to a vet, if they are sick they are sent to quarantine. They also receive a European animal passport and are then placed in associations or with individuals.
This is where you realize the war and the suffering of the people
Cleaning the boxes, prescriptions, treatments, walks… Christophe and Antonio didn’t have time to be idle. The small team of six volunteers, from all over the world, had to take care of 23 dogs. “It made us 15-hour days, we went to bed late and we got up early. But it was a very constructive experience.” Quite anxious at the idea of leaving, Antonio was marked by this trip. “We don’t know what to expect before leaving,” he admits. “And when the border is 500 meters away, we ask ourselves questions. »
Even far from the conflict zone, Medyka bears the suffering of the people who arrive and have for some lost everything under the bombardments. “We see life differently then. We here, on a whole.” Already come a first time and perhaps more in control, Christophe managed to put a little distance. An obligation when you go to this kind of terrain. “We see abused dogs, broken legs, open faces… It’s not for everyone, you have to be calm and strong. Otherwise, we do not help the dogs,” he recalls. “The goal is to be there every second.”
A new journey in mind
Difficult however to remain insensitive in certain moments. Like when Antonio and Christophe went to Przemysl, a few kilometers from the border. Many families, leaving everything behind, land at the station. “I wanted to meet them but we felt their discomfort, I did not insist,” says Antonio. “This is where you realize the war and the suffering of people.” The two friends then simply offered some water supplies to an association present on the spot.
Despite the separate living conditions of these few days (“The dogs were surely better housed than us!”), the two Luxembourgers have no regrets about this trip. When we talk to them about the possibility of leaving, the idea has already come a long way in their heads. If Antonio is not sure of being able to leave, even if he would like to, Christophe leaves no room for doubt. “I normally go back at the end of May. But this time, I would like to go to Ukraine. I want to be present, I want to help.”