Aug 23 2016. view 725
Today on Buzz with Danu, I speak to two amazing people who took the time to speak for the voiceless and give life to those who will never ask for it. What’s amazing about animals is the fact that they have hearts that are giving, they give only LOVE, and at the end of the day, that’s all we want, as it’s really hard to find this in humans today.
I speak to the very talented Shanuki and Andre about their project to save lives - Pawever Pals - Sri Lanka's first online portal. This project was launched at the resent TEDx Colombo event, and here are more details for you to get involved.
Shanuki, tell me your experience speaking at TEDx Colombo.
That was honestly one of the most surreal and amazing experiences of my life. I was such a panic button right up until it happened, because I was feeling very small in comparison to all the other speakers on the line-up, given that I have not achieved even half of what they have in life. There were so many days and nights where my friends and the TEDx committee were constantly reassuring me that everything would be fine. When I got a standing ovation that night, I was so overwhelmed. I went backstage and collapsed in a quivering heap because I couldn't believe it had gone off so well. More than that, what amazed me was the number of people who related to my vulnerabilities and issues that I'd talked about on stage. It was lovely to meet them and share experiences, and to know that my talk had made a difference in their lives. Being selected to talk on a TEDx stage is definitely one of the biggest achievements in my life so far.
You launched www.paweverpals.com. Tell me about it.
Pawever Pals is Sri Lanka's first online portal (paw-tal... geddit?) for animal welfare. There is so much apathy towards animals in our country and so many people who are unaware of the great work being done for animal welfare. Our idea was to give the cause a single forum where all charity groups, services, campaigns, petitions, information and appeals dedicated to the cause could be found, and to develop a facility to build a database of citizens who want to support it. The site increases awareness on Sri Lankan animal welfare as well as gives welfare groups access to anyone out there who is able to help them.
Who helped you the most in this project?
Andre Perera and I developed this together. The idea for the portal came from me, because I am more exposed to the challenges in animal welfare, so whilst I put together the content and liaised with the welfare groups, Andre designed and developed the entire thing and is the site administrator. Along the way I had good friends who are animal welfare activists, who made some valuable suggestions on how we could improve the site further.
When people say, "it's just a dog", what is your answer?
Andre: I'd say it's not just a dog, it's an innocent life. Treat it as you would treat someone you love, with care and respect.
Shanuki: I'd probably say "And you're just an ignorant human".
What do you think is lacking from the government sectors?
Andre: Empathy towards making good animal welfare education and practice in Sri Lanka one of it's priorities.
Shanuki: Speed of action and a sincere interest in the actual wellbeing of our animals. I personally feel the people in power are very ignorant and misinformed of the subject and lack the compassion to make the right policies or put systems in place that actually help this country's animals.
How can one get involved?
Anyone from anywhere can actually use the site's service to sign up and support animal welfare in a number of different ways, depending on what's convenient to them. You can choose between adoption, temporary fostering, donation (money/food/medicine), volunteering, signing and sharing petitions or volunteering your pet to be a blood donor for another animal in need. You can also connect directly with any of the groups listed on our directory and be more actively involved with their work.
For those who stay away from pets or animals, what would you say they are missing out on?
Andre: In the case of a dog that's treated right and respected, then it's a devoted companion for life. If it's a cat as a pet, then it's an unlimited resource of attitude and entertainment!
Shanuki: Any pet owner or animal lover will know that animals actually save us, both physically and emotionally. There's scientifically proven evidence to show how animals reduce our blood pressure, help autism, relieve stress, and do a number of other things that improve our well-being. Anyone who chooses to hate animals is missing out on one of the greatest pleasures in life - being compassionate and being loved unconditionally.
How do you hope to sustain this project?
Shanuki: Its an information-based site and there is no money involved, since Andre and I are doing this voluntarily as we want to to make a difference. The domain is paid for by us, and all the work is done by us so we have no maintenance cost except time, which we are happy to donate towards the cause. We hope that with time, more people will get involved in providing new content and features to the site, as the cause and popularity grows.
Andre: This project is self driven so maintenance time and effort would be in-house (i.e. by Shanuki and myself). Right now we are on Phase 1 of the website. Once we shift into Phase 2, hopefully we'll be able to automate most of the updates to the website.
How many have now joined your (dog) family? Tell me about them.
Andre: Right now I only have one black cat at home. His name is Gotham and he's just over 3 years old. Since I live on rent and work most of the week it's hard for me to have a dog, so Gotham keeps me company when I get home. I also have two other cats who are frequent daily visitors for food and playtime with Gotham, who never seem to leave my house although they're not official pets.
Shanuki: I have three crazy dogs named Oliver, Dodger and Annie who I've given a team name to - Apawcalypse. They're kissaholics who are full of energy, highly destructive and keep me entertained every single day. I also have three cats - Isis, Tinky and Mewsic. Mewsic seems to think he's one of the dogs and the other two just sit on shelves looking bored all day.
What's new in your life?
Andre: Well, being the president of the Workshop Players theater group takes up most of my time, as we are planning exciting productions for this year and the next. Apart from that it's the usual grind at work.
Shanuki: Loads of new speaking engagements were offered to me following my TEDx speech. Apart from that, I'll be switching day jobs in November and setting up a new company. Apart from my usual magazine writing gig and the occasional theatrical projects, I'm making new friends and learning new things every day.