It's been about 2 weeks since we've been home from our trip to Cambodia and I am happy to announce that we have made it through the dreaded jet lag. Hooray! Now that my sleep schedule is back to normal and I'm falling back in to my day-to-day routine, I feel like this is the perfect time to sit down and recall the short but very inspiring time I spent with the Animal Rescue Cambodia team.
I want to be transparent with you all and let you know right off the bat that we didn't just fly over to Cambodia to visit Animal Rescue Cambodia - although it was a priority of mine for sure! We went to Cambodia to visit family and to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of my partner and I. He had never been to Cambodia before and so, I saw this as an opportunity to introduce him to the real roots of my culture. While visiting Cambodia we made sure to dedicate one of our days to Animal Rescue Cambodia and honestly, that day might just be one of my favourites from the trip.
Fun Fact: We started the Scrunchie Project back in March 2019 after seeing devastating videos and articles on the growing dog meat trade in Asia. I immediately started brainstorming ideas on ways I could help these abused animals but I knew I wouldn't be able to run a decent campaign without some help from my way-too-dang-talented-for-her-own-good mother, Rom. I won't babble on too much on the details now since I already did that in the last blog but the point is... this project started way before we even decided to go to Cambodia in October 2019. This project was not an after thought. If anything, this campaign further encouraged me to make the trip out to Cambodia!
Phew, that was a long disclaimer. Let's get back in to talking about our experience with Animal Rescue Cambodia:
Prior to the trip, I was actively communicating with Animal Rescue Cambodia via email to arrange a time to meet them. I received prompt and sweet responses from both the general manager, Nikhil Mani and the founder, Tina Mayr - which I am so thankful for because I know they are very busy people. We ended up settling on Wednesday, October 9th at I believe, 11 AM, thus the day my life changed. Okay, that might be a little dramatic but it definitely was an experience that I will cherish forever.
When we arrived, we (my parents, my partner, and I) were welcomed with smiles, from both humans and dogs. Tina introduced us to her staff and brought us on a tour. We got to engage with animals looking for their forever homes, animals who are still recovering from unfortunate injuries from abuse, animals with disabilities, and animals that were just rescued the day before and are in line for a vet check up. Aside from meeting the animals, Tina also brought us to vet rooms, isolated areas for animals who are recovering from diseases (not contagious to humans), and where they store all their supplies. Tina did not hold back at all during the tour!
During our visit, Tina shared a lot of facts and heartbreaking stories with us. I want to share some of them as these stories really showcase how countries like Cambodia view animals. I'll make it brief:
- majority of animals from Animal Rescue Cambodia do not find forever homes in Cambodia but instead in China, Japan, and America
- most cats in Cambodia have a kinked tail, we were informed that it is a genetic thing and does not impact the cat's health at all but due to their kinked tails, locals see them as imperfect
- there have been a few cases where ARC has had to amputate the paws of cats as children would wrap elastic bands around the cat's paws, causing decreased blood circulation to the paw(s)
- black animals are considered bad luck so it is even harder for them to find homes
- the dog meat trade is growing bigger and bigger every year
- if locals do have a pet dog it is often from a breeder and due to lack of public knowledge on proper pet care in Cambodia, even those pure bred dogs experience abuse and neglect
- most pet dogs and cats are considered "accessories"
These stories and facts are things I already knew but it is so different to actually see it with your own eyes. Even though I didn't witness any of the abuse, I got to witness the outcome- the cat limping from losing a paw from pointless and unfortunate events, the dog that hides in the corner because he can't trust humans from his previous experience. Seeing it all in person is so different from seeing it in a video or picture. Although it is very sad to see, it is the harsh reality we need to see. In order for change to be made, we must witness and acknowledge these horrible things and work together to create a long-term solution.
And that's exactly what Animal Rescue Cambodia is doing. They recognize the issue and they are making big moves to change the perspective of locals. Thanks to your generous donations to the Scrunchie Project we were able to raise a total of $213 US. Your donations will go towards the essentials, vet care, funding more local classes on how to properly care for animals, vaccine events, and rescues. Although the Scrunchie Project is over (for now), we are still strong advocates for Animal Rescue Cambodia and anyone fighting against animal abuse and neglect. If you would like to donate to our friends over at Animal Rescue Cambodia, please check out their website or better yet, visit them if you ever find yourself in Phnom Penh, Cambodia!
I want to say a big thank you to Tina and her amazing team at Animal Rescue Cambodia for taking the time out to show us around and really let us in on the work they do. We also want to congratulate them as they have recently closed down a dog slaughterhouse in Cambodia which is a huge step in the right direction! Thank you for all that you do Animal Rescue Cambodia!
Okay, one last thank you to those who participated or showed any sort of love for the Scrunchie Project... THANK YOU SO MUCH! Your support is soooo appreciated. Your kind words and generous donations fill my heart with joy. I'm so lucky to have the online community that I do.