[Linda Ncube is founder & director of Humane Africa Trust. In partnership with Tikobane Trust, also in Zimbabwe, in 2021, they submitted a proposal and were awarded an AKI Africa-Based Animal Welfare Organization Grant, "The Five Freedoms in Action." The grant project promotes the five freedoms among pet owners in Lupane (HAT) and Hwange (Tikobane).
This is Part 2 of my talk with Linda. This time we focus on HAT's main challenges, achievements, and her dream. Read Part 1 here.]
One of the main challenges I faced came early on: it was the registration process, finding a board of trustees (a requirement to register a charity) and explaining the organization's goals and my dreams was especially difficult when the individuals who did not even understand the animal welfare industry. The concept of animal welfare was entirely new to them.
Financing of the many trips (as the registration process is not a one day process) to the nearest city where the registration process could be done which was about 350 km round trip. I spent a lot of money and many days simply on the registration process.
Then once we started trying to do the real work, there were many difficulties. Getting the Memorandum Of Understanding from the local government authority was a challenge as the welfare of animals, especially when you are talking about cats and dogs, is viewed as a non-essential service. I was continuously asked about my motive to help such animals as they were suspicious that the organisation was maybe politically associated and hiding behind the animal welfare field.
Now we have a good working relationship with local authorities, pet owners, and village leaders.
The greatest achievement that I have since witnessed is when the community responds positively after teaching them of the welfare of animals. For example in the below pictures where we had educational lessons about one of the Five Freedoms- the freedom from hunger and thirst- the participants took from their coffers to buy food for their dogs and cats.
And again people paying for having their pets to be spayed was a great achievement as people used not to spend a single dime on their pet care. Now they see that it's important to take care of their animals.
Also the community calling or visiting us if their dogs, cats, or donkey are not feeling well is a great achievement that shows that our educational lessons are effective.
We still have many challenges. The policy for animal welfare is still struggling in Zimbabwe due to few voices that are advocating for animals especially the domestic animals like pets. Many more advocates are focused on wildlife and hence there is a great gap on the animal welfare between wild and the domestic animals. The plight of wild animals gets much more attention.
The COVID 19 lockdowns which caused may people to lose their jobs, has also affected the welfare of farmed animals especially broiler chickens and pigs. Many people started rearing these animals for income and these are reared and slaughtered in a non-humane way as people are more concerned with the monetary benefits that they get from these animals.
My dream is to see more people being involved in caring for the animals in Zimbabwe. I also wish to have a sanctuary for roaming cats and dogs so that they may enjoy their lives to the fullest, because at the moment we are just attending to the stray animals from wherever they are which is a challenge as they are not friendly to people.
These photos are sent with a broken heart. The 1st photo was taken on the 16th of February 2021 at 0630hrs when we were doing our surveys on the number of cats around. It was a sweet family of between 7 (being the lowest number of cats found at this site) and 11 (being the highest number of cats that we found on this site).
And when Animal-Kind International granted us financial support in August, we were so excited and this family was in my mind for the feeding scheme.
Unfortunately my excitement was cut short on the first day of the program, the 6th of September 2021 @1500hrs when we went to set up our feeding bowls and only 1 cat showed up. Upon further investigation we were told by kids nearby that the owners of the eating house had poisoned the cats and they all died save for this one cat who came to the feeding station.
I did not post this incident up to now am not sure whether it is because I am in denial, or its the pain as I feel I failed these cats, maybe if I had done something earlier, I just can't get over the regret. It pains to have these homeless cats perish just like that.