Goa: Onwards and Upwards!
Jemma Sadler reports on volunteering in Goa.
I heard about International Animal Rescue and Animal Tracks whilst in Scotland back in May assisting in a project to stop the culling of hedgehogs. As soon as I heard about it I knew it was something I wanted to be involved in. I haven’t traveled very much, so the thought of coming to Goa by myself was a bit daunting, but I knew I had to bite the bullet and just go for it... no time like the present!
After I decided to come out here it was all a bit of a whirlwind of flight booking, fund raising and organizing my home life to keep running whilst I was away! I had brilliant support from my family, friends and colleagues, which I doubt I would have made it out here without. I also had a lot of financial assistance from various companies, groups and individuals! Thanks you to everyone on that count! On October 10th I found myself standing at Heathrow Airport feeling somewhat dazed and confused but on my way all the same! Arriving in Delhi was a bit of a culture shock, but soon I was on my way to Mumbai (Bombay) and then onto Goa.
The day after my arrival in Goa, John Hicks (who needs no introduction) and Nathan Kershaw (Welfare Manager) met me for breakfast. We hit it off immediately and it felt great to be part of such a committed (I now realize that they probably do need committing – to a nice room with padded walls!!) and dedicated team!
I have now been here for about 7 weeks and am still in awe of the work that Animal Tracks does. The sheer volume of animals that come through the center every day is astonishing. Everything from dogs and cats to monkeys, terrapins and snakes.
There are many sad moments when animals come in that are in a terrible state with maggot wounds, from car accidents or simple neglect. But there are so many positive moments too. But when a dog comes in that is hurt and nervous and leaves as a healthy, friendly animal, you can’t help but feel happy and proud to be part of an organization doing so much good!
In the time I have been here I have been lucky to experience almost every aspect of the center. I have walked dogs, answered phones, talked to tourists and given ’tours’ of the center, been out and about delivering collection boxes, posters, leaflets etc, have been running an information stall at a local market and have even been out driving one of the ambulances!
Generally we have great support from local people and tourists. Just the other day two people from the UK came into the center and said they had broken down the previous night and had seen a kitten but couldn’t catch it. So, off we go in search of the kitten. There are three of us all crouched down at the side of quite a busy road calling this kitten and trying to tempt it out of the undergrowth. It must have looked a pretty funny sight to passers by! In the end we finally got hold of it and I took it back to the center. The kitten has been named Enfield (after the bike that broke down allowing it to be found) and now lives with Nathan and his five dogs!
There are many positive, heartwarming stories and anecdotes I could relay from the vaults of Animal Tracks, but no doubt I will be writing several reports during my 6 months here, so will save those for another time!