Guest post by volunteer Tanya Waheed:
Thought I should share with you guys one of the best and most heartwarming experiences an animal lover could ever have!
The moment PAWS put up a notice on its website and facebook page calling out for volunteers at the PAWS stall in the Dawn LifeStyle Exhibition November 2010, I knew I had to be there! There were no second thoughts about it! So I, my sister and a couple of friends signed up for this wonderful opportunity and it was one of the best experiences we have ever had.
The idea behind the PAWS stall was two-fold. 1- to collect donations for the flood affected animals and animals in general by selling PAWS merchandise and 2- to educate people about what PAWS is and does.
We met genuine animal lovers from far and wide both in the form of volunteers as well as enthusiastic customers. Some of the highlights of the two days that we volunteered for were:
. getting into an argument with our neighbor stall as they were supporting a cause we were against- not only had they caged animals whose otherwise natural habitat is the wild or the big blue sky but they were also using the animals as levers to jack up their sales allowing people to use flash photography around the poor creatures and touching and poking them and shoving their little kids in the birds’ faces to the point that the birds started exhibiting neurotic behavior and started acting weird to which the stall owner said “yeh tou khush hora hai isliye dance ker raha hai!”
. meeting an aged lady on day 1 who came all the way from the U.K to meet PAWS and only PAWS at the Expo. she was our most generous customer and not only purchased a huge portion of our merchandise but left lots of prayers and well wishes with us as she felt that no other organization is doing as brilliant of a job for animals in Pakistan as PAWS is.
. meeting a small, cute, adorable, edible puppy who was the star attraction of our stall on Day 3 – playing with it, secretly feeding it sandwiches that were supposed to be only for volunteers and smothering it with kisses made our bleeding toes and painful blisters that were a result of walking all around the dog show collecting donations totally worthwhile.
. educating the masses about what PAWS is and does and why animal rights are important. some of the comments we got while trying to sell the PAWS merchandise showed that theres a desperate need for people like US to be more proactive in spreading the word about PAWS and animal rights in general. retorts like “yahan insanoun ki pareyshaniyan kum hain jo aap log jaanwaroun ki madad ker rahay hain”, “kya yeh PAWS pakistan ARMY welfare society hai?’ and ‘pachaas rupay for animal charity?!! haye Allah loot rahay ho subko!’ really got us worked up at times but I guess at the end of the day the best part was trying to deal with such people patiently and educating them about PAWS and if we have managed to change the thinking of or create awareness in even 0.5% of people out there at the Expo I think that’s something to be proud of!
. meeting volunteers exactly like myself who have been involved in rescuing activities, housing stray cats and dogs and fighting for animal rights at every step. We all shared a common bond and a pretty strong one at that and we thank PAWS for giving us a common platform to get to know each other
Those who missed this chance this time, missed out on quite a bit! sometimes things like work, money, school, friends often prevent us from doing things that are meant to make us better human beings. If you try hard enough, you’ll always find a thousand reasons to not do something. If anyone EVER gets the opportunity like this ever again, dont think twice just go for it u will never regret it!! My sister missed her classes at university and even a few deadlines to submit final term projects but doesn’t regret a moment of it. Other volunteers had similar stories as well. They may not get the best results on their school and work projects this month but they are definitely getting an A+ on their moral report card!
Thanks Mahera and Maheen for the way you treated us so kindly and for your ongoing efforts to make this country a better place for animals! =] ?