During the 1st week of March, in heavy winds, the fence at the Sauvons nos Animaux shelter came tumbling down. Without a secure fence around the shelter, the dogs had to stay locked in their enclosures, the shelter supplies and equipment were at risk of being stolen or vandalized, and most alarmingly, the cats and dogs were at risk of being harmed by people who could now easily enter the shelter grounds.
Many of you know that over the years, landslides and mudslides have damaged and destroyed some of SnA animal enclosures and mud had poured into the clinic ruining cherished veterinary supplies.
With climate change and the increased incidence of severe storm events, and with the DRC in one of the regions experiencing the worst effects of climate change, we are only expecting more storms and more damage. As you can see in the pictures and videos in this post, the shelter juts up against a steep slope and the fence only provided minimal protection against land and mudslides. In all likelihood a fence would blow over again in the next wind storm.
We talked at length with Paterne about repairing the fence (the least expensive alternative) or building a permanent, secure wall along the top of the shelter, along with drainage and erosion control measures. Although we knew we'd need to raise more funds for this more expensive alternative, we also knew we couldn't leave the shelter at continued risk, which would be the case if we only repaired the fence. It helps to know that Sauvons nos Animaux owns this property-and that it is a beautiful piece of land, perfect for an animal shelter --except for that steep, eroding slope behind it.
We decided to go with the wall, drainage system, and erosion protection. And meanwhile, continue to hope that our donors come through and decide to support this important work.
On April 12, we received a reasonable quote from a construction company and decided to move ahead. Here's how it's been going:
For the 1st 7 to 10 days, it rained. No vehicles could make it up the road behind the shelter; their tires would have sunk in mud. So instead, after waiting for the road to dry--and just getting more rain--Paterne decided that the work had to move ahead, and he hired local people to carry the bricks up the road:
And so the work on the wall could begin:
As conditions dried, the road above the shelter once again became passable, and construction material could be delivered to the site by motor vehicle. This presented another set of difficulties and dangers:
But finally, the work is moving along smoothly and at a good pace. The labor that goes into this is truly amazing!:
And then on June 7, a problem: To continue the work, the authorities "asked" Sauvons nos Animaux to improve the road that passes over the refuge. They are now working on that:
Here's Paterne standing above the shelter...probably imagining how the shelter will look once the wall is completed and thinking about how life will become so much easier for cats, dogs, and humans once the shelter is secured:
Meanwhile, life goes on at the Sauvons nos Animaux shelter. Paterne's wife, Esther (she's an agronomist by training), joins in with the staff to take care of the animals. Here's Esther grooming Malu:
And we're (Sauvons nos Animaux and Animal-Kind International) preparing for the 2023 Animal Friendly Kids Camp. Kids are already stopping by the shelter to check when camp will begin this year (this video from May 29):
Paterne is planning to start camp on July 10 and have it run to August 31, 8 weeks. But that means 8 weeks of lunches for all kids, 8 weeks of supplies (games, balls, leashes, collars, humane ed material, etc.), and 8 weeks of keeping about 245 campers occupied! That takes a lot of money (and creativity and patience!)
If you'd like to help make sure Animal Friendly Kids Camp is as fun and successful as last year, we welcome your support and we would be so grateful for your help:
To read about the 2022 Animal Friendly Kids Camp, see this AKI Blog post.