I can’t believe that we are now at the end of 2015. It’s gone by way too fast! This past year has been a busy one for me with touring, making my new album (scheduled for release next year) and of course working on Animal People Alliance. We have spent the past year laying the groundwork for 2016 which is going to be our year! Here’s a recap of what we’ve been up to recently and our plans for the coming months.
Progress is being made with our training, however it’s been slower then we would like but we are getting there. We have a group of women from Darjeeling who will go to Udaipur to undertake the training at Animal Aid Unlimited. We are working out the dates with the group now to make sure they can committ to the full two months and will make an announcement shortly with all the details. This is our core mission so we are very anxious to get this off the ground and can’t wait to share photos and videos with you!
Animal People Alliance has also been caring for local dogs in the communities where our staff live, to have them vaccinated, sterlized and treated for various wounds, mange and other health problems. One of the dogs (Ludo, pictured below) was diagnosed with cancer and we’ve been paying for her chemo treatment – and thankfully that prognosis looks promising so far.
Paul and Maura, our local staff in Kolkata, will be doing two workshops in December in local schools – teaching kids about animals and how to interact with
them and also the importance of reading an animal’s body language and how to respond to certain behaviors, in order to protect both the animal
and the people.
We have some exciting fundraising coming up for the holiday season too! Satya Jewelry, one of my favorite jewelry desiginers (in fact I wear alot of their designs), has graciously asked me to pick some of my favorite designs for them to sell in support of Animal People! Visit www.satyajewelry.com between December 2nd-9th and you will see the pieces I’ve selected and the instructions on how to buy. Satya will donate 30% of the proceeds from the sale of these designs to support our work! Further details will be shared on our Facebook page next week so make sure to check it out.
We are also doing a fundraising/service trip in 2016 for all of you out there who would like to come to India. The dates are September 30th – October 9th 2016 in Kolkata, West Bengal and Sikkim. In Kolkata, participants will volunteer at several of our local shelter partners and help with bathing, feeding, cleaning and other basic needs that we can help with. They will also learn all about the stray animal issue in India and walk the streets to see the problem first hand and speak to several people working with animals about what the solutions are and how they can help. I’ll be joining the group in Sikkim where we will visit a local animal NGO to see how Sikkim has successfully addressed the problems that most of India still faces (overpopulation, rabies etc) and why they’re a model for the rest of the country to follow. At the end of the trip we will be back in Kolkata for the first two days of the Durga Puja festival. We’ll end the trip with a dinner together at my favorite pizza restaurant ( yes, pizza!!!) in Kolkata. More information about the volunteer trip will be posted on our website and Facebook page in the next week so check back.
I always say everyone should have the life changing experience of visiting India once in their life. I’ve been many times and I always come back a little different and, I’d like to think, a little better human being. I hope to see you there!
It is so exciting to be a part of something that I have always wanted to do. For a long time I had a dream to create a donkey sanctuary and then in 2009 I visited Animal Aid Unlimited in Udaipur (AAU). Here, for the first time, I was completely blown away by the animal-healing work being done by the founders of this organization, Jim, Erika and Claire Abrams. This is the work of angels and I wanted to be doing that too. However, I didn’t know how that was really going to happen… until by chance in Bangkok, I met up with Paul Suit.
Paul works in Kolkata, India for Made By Survivors, an organization that creates employment opportunities to survivors of human rights abuses. Paul told me about a new project – Animal People Alliance – that he wanted to start up to continue to provide work to at-risk women, develop a more compassionate manner of dealing with street animals and eventually lead to establishing an animal hospital in Kolkata. Well, I stewed on that for about a month or two and thought to myself, this is a perfect way to combine my love for India and my love for animals…I want to help. I called Paul up and asked if I could help out and he said that would be great. So, that’s how my dream to help animals is finally beginning to manifest…and who knows, maybe there will be a donkey sanctuary along the way!
And now the work of Animal People Alliance has begun as we start the search for young women who want to take on the challenge of the training program at Animal Aid Unlimited and begin to contact organizations and veterinarians who will promise to employ the women who go through the training in the year 2016. We have a long way to go still, but we are hopeful that we are actually opening up new opportunities for both animals and women in Kolkata. There are a few of us who will be personally keeping you up to date through this blog so that you can follow what is going on: keeping you up to date with what Animal People Alliance is currently working on, sharing stories from people in Kolkata, and asking for your help by supporting/sharing our fundraising campaigns and events for next year.