Food and help, psychologists and veterinarians: the Bergamo mission for Ukrainian refugees fleeing with animals has begun

Tons of food and basic aid for Ukrainian families who managed to flee the war towards Poland and who, in the dramatic moments of their flight, did not want to abandon their four-legged friends.

Since the start of the conflict until Friday 18 March, 2,041,391 refugees have found refuge at the Polish border: citizens of more than 180 countries have found refuge there, including many non-Europeans coming mainly from Uzbekistan, India, Vietnam, United States, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Syria.

Among the 38 Polish reception points where refugees can receive information, hot meals, medical assistance and accommodation, there are also Przemyślthe arrival point of the Animal Protection and Peace mission, the Bergamo committee which left Friday late afternoon from Lazzaretto with the aim of providing support and a new life to refugees fleeing with animals.

An organized and equipped convoy for every need: the Red Cross medical team with an ambulance and a minibus, two veterinary ambulances, a Zani Viaggi tourist bus, three vans loaded with goods including food, medicine and products basic. 5 tons, specific vehicles for transporting animals, thirteen volunteers, three mother tongue translators, a veterinarian and a student in veterinary medicine who assists him and three emergency psychologists from the EMDR Italy association. In all 33 people, who also refer to the Leidaa, Apa and Italian Veterinary Ambulances associations.

Saturday morning, the first vehicles arrived at their destination: waiting for them, thanks to a lot of international relations work with the Polish authorities, personnel already aware of their mission who had previously informed the Ukrainian families and collected the adhesions of those who had agreed to take the lead for Italy.

In total, 10-12 families will arrive in Bergamo, about forty people, who will be divided between the city and the province thanks to the generosity of eight families who have made themselves available for the reception: “We still need 3-4 apartments until Sunday evening for the final arrangements – he explains while he is still on his way to Poland Mirella Bridaformer president of the Enpa of Bergamo who coordinates the committee – If anyone is available, please introduce yourself”.

However, this is not the only necessity of the mission which, despite the expensive gasoline and the sudden increase in the estimated costs, still decided to leave and confirm its intention: for this an iban was put at disposal (IT 26 D 05018 11100 000017165929) in the name of the Committee for the Protection and Peace of Animals to which free donations can be sent to cover the expenses of the trip, with the reason “Pet project in Ukraine”.

As mentioned, three psychologists specialized in emergency psychology are also part of the convoy, operating on the basis of the EMDR method, which facilitates the treatment of various psychopathologies and problems related to both traumatic events and more common experiences but emotionally stressful.

“For this intervention we have prepared a general project – explains the psychotherapist John Marinoni – For what awaits us, flexibility must be maximum. This is why we prepared ourselves with psychoeducation sessions and just before leaving we ended with a desensitization session: to guarantee the best psychological and therapeutic support we had to be the first to be stabilized vis-à-vis the emotional impact that we ourselves might feel. If we are safe and protected, even with body language alone, we can convey the same feelings to people fleeing war and are in very uprooted conditions.”

Having a dog or a cat by your side can be a great support factor: “It is certainly a resource, an important element of protection – continues Dr. Marinoni – We know very well that the relationship with a pet has a a relational function that provides certainty and security: at a time when they no longer have landmarks such as their home and their land, being able to have an animal with which they have shared a lot is an added value that can provide stability. piece of normality that accompanies these people who have nothing left.During the return trip and once welcomed by the families we will try to go further, helping them to find a new balance”.

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