In this interview, we delve into the inspiring journey of Melanie Roth, a volunteer with the ACT Foundation. Melanie shares her story of how she became involved with the foundation and her role in the newly launched ACT4Animals project. From her initial motivation to help those affected by the conflict in Ukraine to her experiences in a war-torn zone, Melanie provides insights into the transformative power of selfless service. She also highlights the unique aspects of ACT Foundation and its 20-year milestone, emphasizing the organization’s dedication to assisting both humans and animals. As a veterinarian, Melanie sheds light on the goals of the ACT4Animals project and her plans to create a global team to address various animal welfare issues. This interview offers a glimpse into the impact of compassionate individuals and the profound difference they can make in the world.
THE AWAKENING TIMES (TAT): You have an interesting story of how you became an ACT Foundation volunteer. Could you please share it?
MELANIE ROTH (MR): Certainly. When I saw the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and witnessed the displacement and loss of homes experienced by countless individuals, I felt a deep desire to help. I reached out to around 50 different organizations, offering my services as a volunteer in Ukraine. ACT Foundation was the first organization to respond, and without hesitation, I joined their ACT for Ukraine team in Romania to assist in Ukraine.
TAT: What was it like for you to travel to a war zone and volunteer?
MR: There were undoubtedly challenging moments witnessing the hardships faced by the people, but it was an incredibly rewarding experience. Meeting new people, all united in their desire to help one another, and witnessing the gratitude of those we assisted was truly heartwarming. One particular experience stands out. When I first arrived, I noticed a little boy with an injured hand, wrapped in a bandage. Concerned it might be broken, I tried to examine it, drawing on my background in animal medicine. However, he was initially withdrawn and reluctant to open up. Over time, as we saw him every day, he gradually opened up to us. By the time I left Ukraine, he would run to greet us with a smile, laughing and pretending to drive our van. It was incredible to witness his transformation, and it reinforced the power of love and care in bringing out the best in people. This experience truly touched my heart.
TAT: Amazing. Thank you for sharing. I also love ACT Foundation and volunteer myself. What, in your opinion, makes this organization special or different?
MR: ACT Foundation’s work is truly remarkable, with involvement in numerous countries and a focus on helping all creatures. It’s rare to find an organization that extends assistance to both people and animals in such a comprehensive way. That, to me, is what sets ACT Foundation apart. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, it’s a significant milestone, and I’m proud to be part of this organization.
TAT: I understand that you have a medical background and work with animals. I’ve heard that you are in charge of the ACT4Animals project. Could you tell us more about it and your plans?
MR: Yes, I’m actually a veterinarian by training, but I decided I wanted to become involved in humanitarian work. The idea for ACT4Animals came from Chai, Mohanji Acharya, who is also an animal lover. I got to know her through ACT for Ukraine.
The concept of a platform for animals was really appealing because ACT Foundation already does a lot of work for animals in different countries, mainly feeding projects. Now we would also like to set up new projects for animals, such as helping with shelter and medical care. I’m currently in the process of building a team for ACT4Animals, trying to get representatives from each country to meet regularly, brainstorm ideas, and fundraise for new initiatives and projects. There’s a great need to help animals in all parts of the world, and it involves different animals—wildlife, birds, domestic animals. There’s just so much need in various places, and ACT Foundation is a great starting point because many people who love animals are already involved in ACT Foundation.
TAT: Yeah, I think it’s really important, and I guess anyone can join the project. It doesn’t matter if you have previous experience or if you have been volunteering somewhere else. If you have any skills or simply love for animals, you are welcome. This is a call for all who want to be a voice for the voiceless—please join in and ACT4Animals. Let’s encourage new volunteers with your experience sharing. Was this your first volunteering experience, and what inspired you to do selfless service?
MR: Actually, it was my first real volunteer experience. I mean, I’ve done some volunteer work with animals on a small scale, but as a veterinarian running my own business, I was always busy. I got tired of that lifestyle because it wasn’t truly in my heart. I always wanted to help people and animals, even while working in the business world. Combining humanitarian work and my love for animals is really special to me. Having the opportunity to help animals in different situations and do humanitarian work with people is important.
TAT: You shared a heartwarming story about a dog in Ukraine. Could you please tell us more about it?
MR: Sure. While we were in Ukraine with ACT for Ukraine, we visited some dog rescue centers and met a lady who was helping stray dogs in the village of Boyani where we were working. She took us to see some of the stray dogs and also to a home where there was one dog tied up in the backyard. The owner, living in poverty, had trouble caring for the dog. I affectionately named her Pusmishka (Little smile) because she would smile at us when we visited. She would show all her teeth, which some people might find fierce, but I could tell she was happy to see us. Unfortunately, she was tied on a short leash, had inadequate shelter, poor food and water supply, and was living in unsanitary conditions. Fortunately, we were able to provide her with a new dog house and a longer chain for more freedom of movement. We also provided her with food, trying to improve her situation. I wanted to bring her back to Canada with me because I fell in love with her, but due to the circumstances, it wasn’t possible. We did our best to help her. By showing her owner the care she deserved, it helped the owner realize the importance of caring for her as well. I’ve since heard from the local people helping us that the owner brought the dog inside her home, so it was a positive outcome for both the dog and her owner.
TAT: Beautiful. Thank you so much. We hear so many inspiring stories from ACT Foundation volunteers every day. Thank you for being the light in the world.