When the then director of AAF Italy rang me and told me about this new project – a volunteer program of 1 week, with just 10 places available – I immediately said YES, without thinking a moment longer about it. This was back in April and after that, honestly, with so many things happening in Miomojo, successes and failures, new ideas, new team members, I never thought about the volunteer week again until literally one week before I had to leave.
I left Italy exhausted, thinking that maybe I should have packed for a week of sun, sand and “il dolce far niente”, “the sweet doing nothing” instead, but what this week gave me, revealed itself to be much, much more. I feel honoured and grateful for this experience. It was an amazing week in a peaceful, surreal, out of this world environment, with passionate people, committed animal lovers from all over the world, sharing this wish to contribute and the deep feeling of wanting to give these majestic animals a better life after their horrific past of barbaric tortures.
Volunteers group from all over the world!
As you all know, we have been supporting Animals Asia since our foundation. With our ethos of “you buy, we give” and thanks to all of you, we could make a real difference to the lives of hundreds of bears cared for by Animals Asia at its two rescue centres – in Vietnam and China.
Every year we choose a different project to support. More about it here: http://miomojo.com/animal-support/animals-asia/
After this “full immersion” week in an AAF sanctuary life, our commitment to support Animals Asia in a meaningful way is stronger than ever. We had the privilege to live on site with the team, be very close to the bears, care for them and assist the incredibly passionate AAF team all day.
Ryan, the wonderful bear manager, with part of the volunteers and the moonbears in the background
Our day started typically at 7 a.m. and finished at 6 p.m. Although all of us – who came from far away countries, such as Canada, US, UK, Australia and of course Italy- were jet lagged and lacking sleep most of the time, we were so inspired that no one ever felt too tired to participate in the many activities such as:
- Preparing food for the bears
- Placing, scattering and hiding their food and enrichment in their enclosures, allowing them to forage as they would in the wild
- Preparing their daily medicines and help the staff giving them to the bears
- Observing the bears to help the team identify changes in behaviour and physical condition
- Attend a bear health check
- Attending presentations from staff on the work they do and how we could help
There were many emotional moments, like seeing in reality the incredible rehabilitation of these bears which came to the sanctuary broken, physically and emotionally, from up to 30 years of being confined in tiny cages and under unacceptable tortures. Most of us cried seeing the cages, the “metal jackets” and all the barbaric tools of tortures perpetrated on innocent beings.
There was time also for fun of course! In the incredibly tasty full VEGAN canteen for instance, where we enjoyed delicious Sichuan cruelty free food.
Or doing an impromptu shooting of the new winter online collection with the help of the AAF team and the volunteers, beautiful girls playing models for a day!
Last but not least, we had the huge privilege to have Jill Robinson with us, whose presence alone changed the energy of the whole sanctuary.
In awe of what she has created and inspired by her determination, compassion and heroic work and efforts with an ever-ready smile on her beautiful face, fronting the biggest obstacles and frustration of a slow, and yet irreversible process of ending bear bile farming in difficult Countries, we are more than proud to give our contribution to support her work and the work of all Animals Asia’s team around the world. Our strong belief, that every single life can make a difference towards a more peaceful, cruelty-free world for all living beings sharing this planet with us, is stronger than ever. You can make a difference too. Even just buying a cruelty-free bag and choosing an accessory in your daily life with no blood of millions of animals killed for clothing every year on your own hands!
Thank you for choosing Miomojo. Thank you for choosing to be ETHICOOL.