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Dear Samui residents, and friends abroad
I will be walking the Camino de Santiago starting 10 July 2014. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s a pilgrimage walk from across Northern Spain, with several ‘starting’ points, ending in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. I will be starting in Pamplona and will be walking on average 25km per day, ending in Santiago de Compostella on 8 August, 710km later! Aside from a personal challenge, I’m also doing this to raise money for Elfe’s World dog sanctuary here on Samui.
I’m asking for any amount from those sponsors my walk – could be one baht/km or more. All funds will go to Elfe’s World, and I will pay my own way to Spain as well as all expenses while there. Nothing needs to be paid up front. If you sponsor, all that I ask is your commitment and an email address. When I return, I will provide Elfe with all the email addresses so that she can send PayPal invoices to all those that promised to sponsor on completion of the walk. This shows 100% transparency, and that all money goes to Elfe. I’m hoping to get at least 500 people to sponsor for this very worthy cause. I’m hoping that local businesses will come on board too and sponsor.
Please – if you’re able to spare any amount to this very good cause, email me at email@example.com so I can add your name to the list – it’s only payable mid August 2014 when I return from the Camino.
Anyone who wants more info on the Camino de Compostela, which is centuries old, can read about it here:
I can also recommend watching a great moving starring Martin Sheen and Emelio Estevez, called ‘The Way’. It’s a fictional story, but both actors walked the full Camino themselves, which inspired them to make the movie.
Those of you not familiar with Elfe’s World read a copy of a blog post I did, copied below, and also view her Facebook page for photos of the lovely dogs she’s helped to save
Once I start the walk, I’ll be blogging along the way, hopefully daily, subject to WiFi connectivity. A link to the blog will be sent closer to the time.
Elfe’s World, Dog and Cat refuge, Samui
Elisabeth Feigl, known as Elfe runs a refuge for dogs (and a few brave cats) on Samui. Currently she has in excess of 600 dogs in her care, most of which have been rescued from the dog meat trade (DMT), the smugglers stopped by officials, including the Thai Navy, en route to Vietnam.
Although eating dog meat is not common in Thailand, it’s regularly eaten in Vietnam. Smugglers pass through small villages of northern Thailand, and offer plastic buckets in exchange for pets and soi dogs with poor villagers. These dogs are then crammed into cages like sardines and transported across the border to Vietnam, where they are slaughtered as cheap meat. Recently, many trucks and boats have been intercepted, but the problem arises with what to do with these dogs, most of which are in poor condition with broken or severed limbs from being squashed into the cages. The dogs are taken to Nakhon Phanom quarantine shelter south of the area where the arrests usually occur (crossing the Mekong River), and the Soi Dog Foundation assists the Livestock Department with food, medical supplies and vets. Thereafter, independent refuge shelters such as Elfe’s World get in touch to try to find homes for the dogs, either as pets, or sponsored in their shelters.
Elfe tries to find sponsors for the dogs, with initial costs being the medical bill for the dog and the cost of a flight to Samui. Thereafter, sponsorship is only 800 baht per month for a dog for her to house and feed it and attend to any medical bills. She also needs to pay annual rent on a section of land amid a coconut grove in the south of the island, which is home to the rescued dogs.
There are 47 runs and enclosures, as the dogs obviously can’t roam freely or will fight so they are grouped according to temperament. Bowls of dog pellets are left out for the dogs to feed at will, avoiding a frenzy at feeding time – Elfe’s dogs will never go hungry again.
Aside from herself, Elfe only has one Thai man to help her look after the dogs, and here’s how her day goes according to her own description:
At the latest, she’s woken at 06:00 from the 15 dogs that share her bedroom (really). She pets and loves them before attending to the 120 other dogs that share her house, permanently open to the garden. She plays with them, feeds them and gives them any medication due.
Around noon, when the dogs are content and tired, she puts around 10 dogs in the car and goes to see the rest of the dogs – more than 400 more that are in the runs on her land. Her helper, Fak, has already been up since early morning cleaning (that’s a lot of doggy doo), feeding, changing water and doing any repairs to the 47 runs on 12,000m2 of land. She’ll then take any dogs or cats that need to go to the vet and returns as quickly as possible to groom, de-tick and prepare any special food requirements.
Before it gets dark, she takes about 30 dogs for a half-hour walk in the plantation, before taking them back to their runs. The dogs settle in for the night on the benches and bamboo salas dotted around. She stops on the way home at the supermarket or for a quick takeaway and returns to play with the dogs at home – who she says keep her up until around midnight. For Elfe, this is her life, day in and day out with never a weekend or holiday, as the animals need constant care and she can’t afford more help. Yet she describes it as ‘a life of fulfilment and happiness’.
If you’d like to see more of what Elfe does to help these dogs (which are only a fraction of the bigger problem) then visit her facebook page for frequent updates. For PayPal donations, use firstname.lastname@example.org