Dear friends, our This is Gratitude photo contest comes to an end, but the kind stories of its characters are just beginning. Let us introduce the stars of the winning photos!
One of the most liked by the audience was a touching picture of a heroic cat named Kuzma who left no one indifferent. We talked with the author of the photo, Alla Parfenii, who is an animal volunteer.
“We all are like Kuzma the cat: tattered, but adamant!”
“It is a very symbolic photo for me, as we all are a bit like Kuzma the cat today!” the woman laughs. “We are a little shaken by the recent events and incredibly grateful to the Armed Forces of Ukraine for being alive! We lived through hard times, but stayed strong, courageous and unbreakable! Look at Kuzma’s gaze! We jokingly call him a territorial defense cat; after all, he spent the most difficult period of the siege of Chernihiv at his “combat post” …”
The Chernihiv Tuberculosis Hospital, where Ms. Alla has been working for more than two decades, is located on the outskirts of the city. “With the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, our building was immediately shelled,” the woman says. “Our employees first started evacuating patients with the help of the Territorial Defense Forces, as there were seriously ill people among the patients, not able to move on their own… Fortunately, we evacuated them in time: our premises, converted into the base for the Territorial Defense Forces, suffered a lot, as not a single house was left undamaged on the entire vast hospital territory — there were huge holes in the walls, broken windows, shattered bricks, ruins everywhere.
Stray cats and dogs often came to the hospital territory, and I fed them, took them to the vet to neuter them, even took one of the kittens to live with me.”
An unexpected find in the ruins
“In April, when the siege of Chernihiv ended and the TDF left the premises, we went there to see what had happened to our building and take what was left… Of course, I rushed to look for my fluffy friends and found four female cats and a male that I immediately decided to call Kuzma. I gave them my sandwich, which I took as lunch, and they immediately swallowed it! It was clear that the guys from TDF were feeding the cats, because there were plates for cat food in the room… So, it turned out that our Kuzma was in the Territorial Defense Forces and kept guard together with our defenders!”
“Of course, I could not leave the cats to their own devices and visited them with food, although it is at the opposite end of the city and made some animal volunteers join me. We contacted the center of veterinary aid and neutering, spayed the female cats. Two of them were adopted already, and we are looking for responsible owners for two more.”
“But our handsome Kuzma didn’t trust us at first, he was reluctant to make contact. But our care and love did their thing, and he thawed little by little: started allowing us to pet him, cuddled with us… He was sitting in a window covered with sandbags waiting for me (the windows remained like that since the TDF were based here), and that’s how I took this thrilling photo. This bagged window is his traditional post, he usually sits there on guard, keeps the perimeter defense…”
Will Kuzma's story have a happy ending?
“All spring, summer, and autumn, I was feeding Kuzma, but recently I noticed that the kitty was unhealthy since he was breathing heavily, and later he disappeared altogether. I was so worried, I was looking everywhere for him, and when one day Kuzma ran out to meet me my happiness knew no bounds!”
“Currently, the cat is being treated at the Step Towards the Animals Center of Veterinary Aid and Neutering, and I am so grateful to its employees for their help. I hope that he will be alright, after all, so many people cheered for our Kuzma! And after treatment, we will look for a new family for him. He is a Facebook favorite now, and I want to believe that someone will take our heroic cat home so that he can live in care and love.”
“I have been involved in animal volunteering for many years,” Ms. Alla says about herself. “I joke that I save people at work, and animals after work… A huge thank you to the Goodacity project for helping volunteers who take care of stray animals. It is such a joy to be in a volunteer community, around like-minded people who care about the fate of homeless animals. And I am also very grateful to my husband Viktor for his help and support! Stray animals cannot save themselves, but we, people, can help them! It is not that difficult to notice them on the street, defenseless, abandoned, unsuited to life in the open. It is not difficult to not pass by, to feed and help them. You can look away and walk by, or you can stop and do something good, and it will save one little furry life!”