AKI Partner Organization-Sauvons nos Animaux, Congo
AKI's Partnership with Sauvons nos Animaux
Sauvons nos Animaux is our newest Partner Organization, added January 1, 2022! After receiving an AKI Africa-Based Animal Welfare Organization Grant in 2020 and a 2nd one in 2021, we decided to add SnA as a Partner.
It's really difficult to run an animal shelter in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (probably the only animal shelter in the entire, huge country): the region is very poor, it's beset with conflicts, and natural disasters (earthquakes, flooding) are common. But Paterne Bushunju, founder & director of SnA (photo right at the SnA shelter), is determined to make sure the SnA shelter cats and dogs receive the same level of care they would get if they were someone's pets. We are helping him achieve that.
You may be surprised how expensive it is to run an animal shelter in the DRC --and run it right. At the current population level at the shelter, about 80 cats and dogs, it costs about US$22,000/year for dog and cat food.
Staff salaries (6 animal caretakers, one vet, and one night security guard) cost over $12,000/year. Water and electricity is approximately $32/month, $384/year. Shelter supplies, about $300/year. And vet supplies, it depends, but they're not cheap and can be as high as $3000/year. That's a lot of money to raise for animal care anywhere, but it's especially difficult to raise that kind of money in eastern DRC, where the average annual income (2019) is US$449!
And we haven't even included maintenance of shelter infrastructure, which is also costly given the damage caused by floods, mudslides, termites, heavy rains and boiling sun.
When I (Karen) visited Sauvons nos Animaux at the end of 2022, Paterne was having a very difficult time raising enough money for food for the shelter animals and hadn't paid shelter staff for a few months--yet they continued to show up at the shelter and worked every day. The shelter dogs and cats were so skinny some days, Paterne had only rice to feed them (read about my visit to SnA in the AKI Blog). We knew we had to help him and I promised those cats and dogs that they would never have to go hungry again.
To help Paterne purchase food for the shelter-and to make sure the shelter's cats and dogs never have to go hungry again, we've created the Shirlee Christensen Memorial Pet Food Fund for Sauvons nos Animaux cats and dogs. Shirlee was an animal advocate her entire life, and according to her daughter, she would be honored to have this Fund as her legacy.
Map: The Sauvons nos Animaux shelter is in Bukavu, in South Kivu Province in the eastern DRC. The DRC is about 1/4 the size of the US. It is the 2nd poorest country in the world.
Animal-Kind International & Sauvons nos Animaux in 2023
We've deepened our commitment to Sauvons nos Animaux this year. In early 2023, due to heavy winds, the SnA shelter fence blew over. The fence was never meant to be a permanent solution to keeping mudslides, landslides, and floods at bay nor intruders out. So after long discussions with Paterne, we decided to raise money to build a permanent, sturdy wall with proper drainage. It just did not make sense to put up another fence-even though so much less expensive, especially with climate change wreaking havoc, a wall is the only solution for the long-term.
Animal-Friendly Kids Camp was started by Paterne in 2016 as a way to address the cruelty cases that he was seeing increase whenever school was out and kids were bored, with nothing to do. Campers learn about dogs and cats, how to approach them, how to pet them and care for them. They participate in shelter tasks-feeding, giving water, learning to bathe the dogs, groom the cats and dogs. Now with about 250 kids attending the 2-month long camp, it's become expensive to hold it every year. All kids get a vegetable-based lunch daily, they are given educational material about dogs, cats, and other animals, they draw animals, play games. We're committed to ensuring Sauvons nos Animaux will always be able to hold Animal Friendly Kids Camp-the lessons learned at camp are just too important not to support. (Read about Animal-Friendly Kids Camp-2022)
More about Paterne (This is an excerpt from an article originally published in Bark Magazine)
As a young boy, Paterne started rescuing dogs from the dangerous streets of Bukavu. Unlike most of the people he knew, something drew him to the dogs and their plight and he felt the need to protect them and keep them safe.
At first, Paterne placed his rescued dogs at an abandoned church next to where he lived. At this point in his animal rescue career, Paterne knew very little about the world of animal rescue, protection, and sheltering. He began researching the topic online. That's where Paterne met Giancarlo Barbadoro, director of Ecospirituality Foundation in Europe.
They discussed how pets are treated in Europe and how pets are treated in the DRC. They discussed animal care and welfare. Giancarlo decided he wanted to help Paterne in his rescue work. He sent a donation that allowed Paterne to rent a small house where he could safely keep the dogs he took from the street.
In 2014, Paterne started Sauvons nos Animaux. With Giancarlo's ongoing support and Paterne's growing number of supporters on social media, in 2016, Paterne was able to buy a large plot of land and create a shelter for cats and dogs, the 1st and only one in Bukavu, and in eastern DRC, and perhaps in all of DRC.
The SnA shelter now has about 45 dogs and 30 cats. Paterne recruits volunteers from the community to help out by building structures at the shelter, cooking cat and dog food, and spending time with the animals. He especially focuses on the local kids and has created a Kids Club, since as we know, the only way the situation for cats and dogs will improve is to educate the youth to be kind, to care for animals, and to provide hands-on opportunities to learn about the joys of cats and dogs.
Although trained as an Environmental Engineer, Paterne has decided to dedicate his life to rescuing the animals of South Kivu and raising awareness among communities of their responsibilities towards them.
Sadly, in 2019 Giancarlo died, but he lived to see the SnA shelter become a reality.
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