In animal friendly families, children get to hear from childhood that a domestic animal is the best and most trusted companion of Man. But Man on the contrary, has used and exploited the same domestic animals for security, pleasure, transport, wearables, ornamental, and even food.
Robin Singh came visiting from US to Auroville India in 2012, and met an old lady taking care of 45 stray dogs, all by herself. His short stay helping her, made him travel back with a friend, to India again in 2013, with the cause of helping stray animals. As they started a Volunteer program with the old lady at Auroville, they also initiated a sterilization program for stray dogs in Delhi, in collaboration with the local dog feeders, thus creating several “”Puppy Free”” pockets in the city.
Team ‘Badmash Peepal’ at work
Feeling the urgent need of treating and serving a large number of animals took Robin to Dhanotu village, 13 km away from Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. Here, in December 2014, Robin started the PEEPAL FARM, with the idea of bringing together animals who needed help, and people who wished to help animals. In August 2015 he also started a work exchange program at the farm. All the tasks here are divided into two categories – Critical and Essential. The critical work comprises of feeding animals and imparting treatments to them, whereas the essential tasks include cleaning and enrichment. A normal day comprises of feeding the animals, their medical treatments and clean-ups, followed by many farm related activities and rescue operations if any.
“Realising the grave health problems which the ingestion of plastic causes to the cows, and also seeing farmers abandon their old cows that can no longer can breed or produce milk, the Peepal Farm has come up with an entrepreneurial project, for making plant pots out of cow dung. Through this innovative idea, the farmers are encouraged not to leave their cows astray, but to leave them with us. At present, we are trying to develop a local market for these pots”, says Robin.
Robin is also on his front foot, promoting the concept of ‘Hacktivism’ and ‘Cultural Jamming’ for his foundation. The cultural jammers at the Peepal Farm, are gunny sacks having a picture of Lord Krishna with a line “This is my cow” written below, to cover the stray cows. This small act makes a difference to those cows, who are whipped with sticks and injured. “In this way, you can have a God-fearing culture, leading to a better world”, says Robin. “Ours is not a billion dollar project, hence we aim to use cultural jamming to develop a positive association with the masses”, Robin adds.
Volunteers from US, UK, Brazil, India and many other countries, are extending their services by turns, at the Peepal Farm. They also organise special community programmes, like teaching the village girls to use Google and Gmail, and providing free medical treatment to all animals in the village. The Peepal Farm is also now home to three calves, a horse and a bull.
Robin Singh is highly optimistic, and feels that man is at such a juncture today, where he seeks to address the higher need, resting above the financial constraints. “Working with the Peepal Farm is an opportunity to pursue that higher need, to inspire others, and free oneself from financial slavery. Adopting a companion animal, and lowering the consumption of farm animals, takes you to that higher level of self satisfaction in life”, says Robin who further adds: “Those who do not help animals, find themselves at a loss”.
The Peepal Farm is looking for smart people, driven with an aim to chase passion over monetary success, to work with it on a full-time basis.
NAZNEEN KACHWALA | TOC
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