Funding most preferred way of helping Gostomel shelter, please click the link to review payment requisites of Gostomel shelter or continue reading if you'd rather help otherwise.
Parcels. KSPA appreciates very much the care of the people who collect second hand articles to send us. Nevertheless it's a less preferred way than a monetary donation. First, consider high postage. It's not unusual that the postage exceeds the price of the same articles when purchased (new!) in Ukraine. Please stay realistic if you want to help and not just get rid of old stuff. Second, charity parcels are, exactly like any other import, subject to exhausting customs clearance in Ukraine1.
An intelligent solution is selling the articles on E-bay and donating the money.
Charity transports. Customs clearance is a true nightmare in Ukraine, and charity goods are no exception1. A real life case: the lot of second hand articles and dry food was collected in Germany and sent to Ukraine. Several persons were busy with organizing the things for eight months and doing their best, but the goods are still not there as of August 2012. Neither KSPA nor Gostomel shelter can obviously afford such huge effort. You can employ ukrainian brocker to care for customs clearance... but at the end the expense probably exceeds the price of purchasing the goods in Ukraine. So wholesale deliveries unfortunately stay currently tabula rasa.
There is better chance if you are going to Ukraine with a passenger car and taking some articles with you. In fact you can load your car pretty full, just don't take more than 3-5 pieces of each kind. Your baggage should look like your private demands and no commerce. Don't take fluid medicines with you, otherwise severe issues with customs may occur. (The next laboratory that can confirm the content is NaCl indeed is perhaps in Kyiv, the analysis takes "just" couple of months, and in the meantime you may stay in quite uncomfortable ukrainian prison).
Otherwise we can only suggest donating to shelters in need inside EU (Spain, Poland, Romania, Greece, Bulgaria) where customs is no problem.
Assistance in the shelter. We cordially thank brave people who come to Ukraine to help Gostomel with their own hands. The shelter constantly depends on volunteers help and welcomes everyone, especially the individuals with veterinary skills. Nevertheless we kindly ask you to remember you are hopefully coming to help and not to make us busy with extra organizational work. We understand the challenges of the first time visitor to an unfamiliar country and we try to support you as much as possible. But again, it all makes only sence if you are independent and proactive enough to resolve yourself most of the issues below.
Assistance in the shelter
Typical activities of shelter's volunteers
The living in Ukraine and especially daily business of a shelter for stray animals is probably a grin impression for most europeans. General disorderliness of life may impact you deep. Please think well before you decide for coming
. If you are confident you overcome all the challenges below and some others, then chances are you fit well in Gostomel shelter and enjoy working with people who struggle day by day doing really kind things... sacrifice themselves for animals to a large degree.
The shelter sets neither minimal nor maximal duration of your help. You are free of obligations besides common sense and elementary politeness. It's wise to inform about your coming nevertheless.
There is no Internet connection in the shelter or around. Purchasing a GSM Internet subscription for your notebook is the solution, the price is comparable to what you expect in Europe.
No shelter employee speaks English or another foreign language. Some KSPA volunteers do, but people usually work full time in the city on weekdays and only come to the shelter on weekends. Foreign guests are still pretty uncommon in Gostomel and we have managed so far to provide the visitors with an English speaking guide at least for their first time in the shelter, but no guarantee you are lucky too.
Kyiv airport is 40 minutes to 4 hours away from the city, depending on exact location, availability of a car and rush hour. No surprise, Gostomel volunteers usually won't meet you in the airport. Please use public shuttle bus, shuttle mini bus ("marshrutka", [ma:ʃ'ru:tka]) or taxi. After you reach the city a guide can meet you much easier, so we rather organize it.
Apartment in Kyiv. You rent an appartment in Kyiv because it's cheaper than a hotel over a longer period, and you come daily to the shelter. Renting of one bedroom appartment about 35 m² overall area, bedroom about 14 m², may cost you 300 USD a month. Reserve another 300 USD for modest food to cook yourself and basic daily needs, excl. public transport to the shelter (1...3 USD and 1...2½ hours one way, depending on the location).
Hotel in Gostomel. Advantages of living in Gostomel or surrounding villages are cheap price and proximity to the shelter. Some hotels are as far as 800 m away from the shelter. You can consider this hotel in the center of Gostomel town.
Apartment in Gostomel. All the advantages above plus even more cheap price. "Four Paws" used to rent a house near Gostomel shelter for their volunteers during neutering action on the eve of European Football Championship in 2012. This option obviously makes sense over a longer period of time (above 2 months).
Accommodation in the shelter. Some employees live directly in the shelter. One or two volunteers may be provided with a bed in shelter building too (subject to availability). Conditions of life are very basic though... you really don't wish it yourself! You share the premises with simple people, the workmen. You cook yourself with a gaz range (provided). The toilet, the washstand and summer shower are outside the building.
Please don't rely on this variant as on your primary option.
The shelter does not offer any compensation for your help, you volunteer for free.
Visa and formalities
Every formality is a long and exhausting bureaucracy in Ukraine. KSPA is not able to assist you with obtaining a visa, registering with appropriate immigration authority, applying for an work permission etc. Please consult Ukrainian embassy in your country for the procedure and requirements. Tourists are subject to simplified procedure, so think of the purpose of your visit while filling in the application form ("seeing sights" instead of "charity1 help in a shelter"). Generally, any deviation from statistical average of a tourist visiting Ukraine is fraught with events.
The vets who seek after neutering experience can apply all their skills in the shelter: neutering, but also traumas, operations and entire range. You get an exceptional experience, but you probably won't make any use of it in civilized world. The difference is the level. Civilized vet sends blood to the lab, reads the analysis and knows everything. Unfortunately there is no lab here. You learn to diagnoze a decease primarily from the appearance, based on your experience, intuition, and common sense. If you don't want to rely on surgical armaments the shelter was donated decades ago, please bring your own and keep an eye on them while in the shelter. You are going to use unfamiliar medicines. Many modern drugs are not available in Ukraine at all. You are expected to organize the availablity of the medicines yourself, not necassarily by purchasing but certainly by proactive and insistent informing respective people about your needs. Are you prepared for this crash course?
Taking your pet with you
You can bring your dog with you (please don't bring cats, they get infected). The quarantine on the border is another nightmare, prepare yourself fighting hard with bureaucrats. Vaccinate your dog against anything possible and impossible to protect it while living together with former strays that might suffer all imaginable deceases. Look well after your dog, some four-pawed inhabitants roam freely on the shelter territory, they are (mostly) kind to people but not to new dogs.
The word "charity" has no magic effect on ukrainian customs and frontier bureaucrats, it usually only raises their suspicions and captiousness.