Super Cyclone - How We Are Helping!
Dear Friends of India's animals:
When our second "India on lockdown" email went out last week we didn't know if we should include the scary news of the super cyclone approaching as we didn't want to overwhelm people. We were not sure how we could help. Since then we have been hard at work forming new partnerships of how to help the beleaguered city of Kolkata and the great animal rescuers there. Thank you to all understanding people who will comprehend this emergency and help if you can! We greatly appreciate all the help given so far for the "lockdown" and are busy distributing those grants as well.
Let's give animals save harbor from the storms, see the moving video from our long time partner "JBF" or "Just Be Friendly".
1. First we helped our long time partner APOWA in Odisha State, far down the coast which gets battered as well. Each year weather challenges make them well equipped to help the animals such as their rescue of many trapped animals . APOWA helps the people and animals of coastal villages. The team is prepared to tackle any situation caused by the current cyclone with rescue team, stocking of medicines, equipment etc. Apart from that, they are regularly contact with the ground level AWGs (Animal Welfare Groups), which are situated o the sea side and most vulnerable areas of Odisha. They provide up to date news, early warnings, evacuate the animals to safer places and restocking of foods & first aid medicines.
2. From our new partner who works chiefly in Kolkata "Animal People Alliance":
Cyclone Amphan, the most severe storm this region has seen in recorded history, smashed directly into West Bengal and headed straight for us. Kolkata isn't exactly known for its strong and robust infrastructure and so when a storm of this magnitude bears down on the city it creates unprecedented havoc. The gale force winds tore thousands of trees out of the ground and sent them hurling into homes and shops. The torrential rain, assisted by the winds, flooded streets, businesses, slums, homes and even somehow managed to reach flats over 6 stories high through exhaust vents, window AC's and elevator shafts. It was shocking to witness and is a strong reminder to never underestimate Mother Nature.
As is always the case those less fortunate, both people and animals, have suffered the most. People living in low lying areas, in slums, in poorly made structures consisting of one, maybe two rooms, have lost their homes and most of their possessions. Birds were killed by the thousands, an unknown number of dogs and cats have drowned or been severely injured by falling debris. Many will not get the help they need because no-one can reach them or even find them.
Help Animals India grant money for Animal People Alliance will go to their rescue team as well as their partners at the Chhaya shelter which is partially destroyed. You cannot imagine how grateful they are for this help!
Actually, you don’t have to imagine, you can hear it the sweet thank you’s from their team and their famous co-founder, musician Belinda Carlisle!
Four dedicated people put their heart into this short video, please give a minute to share appreciation by watching!
3. You may remember that we already helped feed the 150 abandoned "joy ride" horses (due to lockdown) through the ASHARI - PFA (People for Animals) Kolkata shelter. Now the PFA shelter has suffered so much disheartening damage, we are helping them further . All this is facilitated by Maneka Sanjay Gandhi and are, as ever, grateful to her and her offices.
ASHRAI - PFA Kolkata update:
It was the scariest night for the animals with staff members on standby. On top of a lockdown crisis, we are now facing added duties to resolve a huge mess and left behind damages. Grateful that none of the animals got hurt. Part of the roof of our shelter blew off, cats escaped but we found them all! Trees fell all over damaging many structures but we made temporary roof coverings. Rescue work has resumed as the animals must never suffer! The unsung heroes of our staff are limping back. We've a long way to go — but we will get there — together!
4. Last, but not least, Help Animals is honored to send your donations to some of the most disenfranchised. And now there are further needs because of the cyclone devastation; we will send small amounts to these individual rescuers that have been portrayed in the Indie Hit film #pariahdogmovie. Pariah Dog Films will distribute the money fairly to individual rescuers such as those below and in the film!
PARIAH DOG is a feature-length documentary centering on four street dog caretakers in Kolkata, India. The film was shot over the course of three years, gaining intimate access to the lives of these four marginalized people who struggle tirelessly to help the dogs and cats they see on the streets around them. Although many are in difficult material and emotional circumstances themselves, they dedicate themselves to the betterment of animals' lives. PARIAH DOG premiered at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, where it was awarded "Best Feature." It went on to play thirty festivals in ten countries, and receive several more awards, including "Best Sound Design" at the prestigious Mumbai International Film Festival, India's premiere festival for nonfiction film. The film is currently playing the online version of the Ashland Film Festival, Kanopy now and will be released on iTunes and Amazon Prime Video in July.
The last of a line in an extremely elite Bengali family, Milly lives a solitary existence in the ruins of her once-magnificent family mansion. She has fed and cared for the street dogs in her area of South Kolkata for years, but due to some recent health problems, is now limited to the dozen or so dogs she has taken onto her property, including several with long term injuries or health problems. She also works independently to do education and outreach to local people, teaching them how to co-exist with street dogs, and trying to change perceptions and encourage communities to take responsibilities for the dogs in their area.
Kajal Halder was a housemaid when she started taking care of street dogs in her area of South Kolkata. Soon the love of dogs took over, and she moved into a shack near a dog shelter Milly Sarkar had built on her property. She works without pay, caring for the dozen-odd dogs on the property, as well as dogs through the area, surviving mostly on donations and goodwill of local people who see the tireless work she does. She administers medication, feeds, and cares for dogs in extremely poor condition. During the cyclone she received a phone call that a mother dog was stuck with her puppy next to a canal, and left the relative safety of her home to search for the pair alongside a nearby canal.
By day, "Pinku" drives an electric passenger cart called a "toto." By night, he cares for the dogs in his North Kolkata neighborhood, many of whom now live with him in his modest home. When not nursing sick animals, he makes intricate carvings, and paints jungle scenes on the walls of his room. Pinku is a self-taught artist, but he wonders if we live in a world not made for artists, or animals.
The nephew of a famous Bengali actress, Subrata earns a meagre living driving an auto-rickshaw in South Kolkata. Every day he travels miles across the city with his two sacks of food, feeding and caring for 50-60 street dogs. He receives leftover chicken and rice from a hotel at lunch, which he feeds the dogs, sometimes eating what's leftover himself. Years ago, he appeared on a wildly popular Bengali game show, "Dadagiri Unlimited," which was the highlight of his life.
With love and deepest appreciation from Eileen Weintraub and the Help Animals India team, all of the animals, and our colleagues in India and Nepal who serve them. We wish you success in your own worthy activities to bring happiness to all!
Thank you so much for caring and please take care!
If you would like and are able to you can create a Facebook fundraiser for Help Animals India by sharing this link; there is no fee for donating via Facebook.