Build the Bridges

“Who, if not you, will burn the bridges?” (Christina Solovij) 

Better not to burn the bridges, but to build them!

People need connections. Between parts of the city, between organizations, between friends. The symbol of the bridge as a connection accompanies us everywhere. Public organizations are also peculiar bridges between the state government and society.

Public organizations are called to create the conditions for connection and communication between people of similar values ​​who are interested in working on common problems. Those organizations are called to help not only materially, but also to provide educational services, and to develop professional, communicative and creative skills.

In 2018, there were 81,598 public organizations in Ukraine: for women, children, youth, veterans, unions of people with disabilities, ecological protection, human rights, etc.

It is known that most NGOs work in large cities and administrative regions. In Bucha, Ukraine, a small town, there are also different civic organizations of varied scope, coverage and channels of influence. There are 63 public organizations registered there.

Maria Mykytiuk, founder of the community environmental organization Bird Wings Help Center for Wildlife and Birds, spoke to me about her NGO.

“Ornithology was my childhood dream. I wanted to become an ornithologist, but my parents did not support me. So I received philological and legal education, and now I work as a criminal expert. My husband and I have a stable financial situation, so now I can also fulfill my dream. We set up a wildlife rehabilitation center.

Our patients are wild animals and birds — owls, hawks, waterfowl, swans, storks, buzzards, and also urban birds. If it is a big animal, we cooperate with nature reserves. We started a project for the Kiev region, and now we are taking birds and animals from all over Ukraine. We also advise other countries that do not have such centers, because we already have some experience with treatment. We began to do this because of the fact that most veterinarians in the region refuse to treat wildlife and birds.

The main goal of the center is the rehabilitation of animals in various ways: for instance, the treatment, feeding of chicks and rafting. That is, in every way that can rehabilitate the injured bird and release it to freedom, so that it can then extend the population.

It’s primarily my husband, our children and I who care for the animals. Aviary cleaning, feeding, arranging the territory — we do most of it ourselves. Different people bring us birds, and some help financially in providing transport, food, raft. We have a principled position: ask for no money, but seek volunteer help.

At present, we have birds and squirrels, owls and whiteheads — including a white owl. A separate aviary for small birds, including woodpeckers and sparrows. There are also friends, Stork Petya and Duck Utya, who live permanently on the territory because of health problems. In our house live “carnation” birds, along with swallows, turtles, geckos, and a tarantula.

There are often news reports about NGOs, and so people learn about us through the media and through our main information platform Facebook — where we put videos of treatment, release of birds to freedom, and a request for help. So when people find a wounded animal, they turn to us right away. We receive requests for help from different parts of Ukraine.

In addition to treatment and rehabilitation, our center carries out a number of projects. It’s too early to talk about the results, because it takes 3-5 years to make some conclusions.

Offering artificial bird nests and houses when needed.

We also create artificial nests for predatory birds. The project is aimed at increasing the population of birds that are unable to build their own nests because of the specific shape of the beak.

In schools, we also conduct “Lessons of Kindness.”  We tell students about ecoculture, how to treat animals, how not to harm, and how to support.

Local children learn about ecoculture at the sanctuary.

In the spring we plant together with schoolchildren the first flowers, and tell them about the importance of plants for nature and the need to protect them.

We conduct excursions in our center, go to the Day of the Ecologist, and also go to Veterinarian Day. We teach people to sort the rubbish [1]. We show the process of “ringing” [2], so that you can monitor the migration of birds.

In summer, children from schools, kindergartens, forest clubs, and environmentalists from Plast [3] come to us. Students of the Institute of Zoology write course papers on the basis of our center.

The mission of our rehabilitation center is to increase the level of ecological culture in the region. For me, it’s important that ecoculture develops, and we have to show an example to society. It is necessary to raise the civic consciousness and responsibility. People learn to take care of an injured animal, to support it, and then to release it.

Scientists express the idea that animals fall into the Red Book [4] precisely because of the human factor. If organizations such as ours show people what can be done to harmoniously coexist with nature, then perhaps the  Red Book will become thinner.”

Public organizations act as invisible bridges to keep this society together. They create necessary connections. They fill the emptiness in the social sphere, which cannot be filled by the state. They support, develop, maintain and create a comfortable climate for life. They have an undeniably positive social impact on society that is irreplaceable.

[1] Part of ecoculture education for Bucha children [2] Placing small ring on bird’s leg, specifying species, age, habitat [3] Ukrainian outdoor organization for children [4]  List of extinct species

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