Involve and Inspire
Sahil, Momin and myself are in the van. Momin is driving, Sahil and I, squeezed in the front. The entire back is taken up by two large cages. Momin warns us that he’s not a great driver on these narrow hilly roads. Sahil assures him there won’t be any problem. There’s excitement in his voice and a sense of adventure in the van, like in a company of men on a hunt, although we three are out only to catch dogs for neutering.
Sahil started working as a day wager on the farm during construction, later joining the Animal Rescue team. He’s picked up a lot, he informs me, in the last two and a half years of working for the animals — cleaning wounds and bandaging, administering IV fluids and suturing. And when experts like Dr Orly come and work with us, he has the opportunity to learn more, even just by observing sterilizing surgeries.
Being a resident of Dhanotu, where Peepal Farm is situated, Sahil’s intimate knowledge about the neighbourhood is indispensible for the neutering program. He knows, for example, that a mother lives with her pups under a concrete path that goes over the sewer. On the way back to the clinic with the pups, he tells me in his shy way that before he started working with animals, he wasn’t particularly fond of them. Now, he has not only adopted one of our rescued and treated dogs but also given it his last name ‘Lucky Saini!’ And to top that, his father has adopted a cow and a bull from our shelter.
The knowledge of neighbouring villages and hamlets, something that our local employees Sahil and Bobby have, is also essential for our ‘treat-on-street’ cases, where we give first aid and frequent visits to an injured animal on site. On one such case near a nunnery in the interiors of Garoh, we examine a cow whose tail has almost entirely been cut and the wound is maggot-filled. When we are heading back, I ask Sahil if wounds like this don’t freak him out and he replies, “Pehle lagta thaa. Magar ab toh dil khul gaya hai. Ab sirf animal ki sochte hai, kaise uska wound jald se jald theek kare.” (Previously, I used to freak out. But now the heart has opened up. Now I think only about the animal and how to treat its wound quickly.)
Opening up hearts is one thing working at Peepal Farm does to young and enthusiastic people like Sahil and Bobby, whose passionate involvement not only benefits the strays but also spreads our message among the residents of Dhanotu and neighbouring areas.
Opening up minds is the other. Diksha has been working in the Products department at Peepal Farm for six months. You enter the kitchen and see her grinding roasted peanuts for our Peanut Butter or cacao beans for Vegantella. Or she’s is in the office checking details of some online order.
Diksha, also a resident of Dhanotu, always wanted to do something for stray animals. She and her sister felt the plight of cows and dogs who, having no access to proper food and clean water, were reduced to rummaging in garbage dumps. Learning about Peepal Farm was a great discovery for her. Over the refreshing whiff of chai masala, which Diksha is grinding with our organic-farm grown lemon grass, mint, ginger and basil, she tells me that she enjoys working here a lot. She says the environment is safe and being among people from different parts of the world has made her socially more confident. Working in an organisation rather than at home has also made her more responsible.
Along with picking up a handful of skills on the job, like checking emails, sending off parcels and creating invoices, Diksha and Pooja, under the tutelage of Shivani, have also learned how to maintain standards of efficiency and professionalism, qualities which no doubt will be expected of them when they step out into the wider world.
“Sabse achi toh yahan ye baat hai, ki hum animals ki dekh-bhal karte hai,” Diksha says in her soft-spoken manner. (The best thing about working at Peepal Farm is that we take care of animals). Add to that the fact that all proceeds from our products go to fund our recovery center, and you have yet another reason to work at Peepal Farm or with us — Involve and Inspire.