She is best known for her incredible contributions to animal welfare, she’s a former psychotherapist, a journalist, and most famously the founder and CEO of Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation aka ACF Animal Rescue. Ayesha Chundrigar is one of those unique individuals who has made a lasting impact in Karachi for animals and humans alike. By putting all her efforts into doing right by the voiceless, no matter what obstacles get in the way, she is a woman of substance who has developed the largest animal welfare organization in a country where animal suffering has been taken quite lightly with little to no action. The CEO has had quite the year with several initiatives by ACF Animal Rescue and has won multiple awards along the way.
Ayesha recently appeared on a podcast ‘Helping the Helpless’ hosted by Junaid Akram. Read the excerpts to know more about her journey of being the voice of the voiceless through ACF Animal Rescue.
How did it all Start?
I have a very weird answer to this. Since my childhood, I was fascinated by death. I was so aware that humans have very a limited time period to live. Therefore, one should make the most of it. This created an urgency in my head space to live not just for myself, but for those who don’t get a chance to. I have always resonated with animals’ pain since I was 5. Being a child I would rescue them in my little capacity. Not just animals, I could feel the pain when I would see kids of my age begging on the streets. ‘Why do I have more and they don’t’ is the question that always triggered my mind. I made my mother put-up schools at home for the children of our domestic staff. The reason why I choose to help animals because I was well aware that no one would do anything for them. I was doing 5 jobs and started ACF side by side. I didn’t know that I would stumble upon some of the horrific forms of animal abuse. I feel, It’s not just an animal right issue, it’s the violence in society. It’s a broader issue that I am dealing with.
What Does An Animal Right Activist Do?
I don’t like calling myself an activist, this term has a negative connotation in the society. The moment you say, activist, people turn defensive. I still feel this term is new in Pakistan and I need to plugin very slowly and let people get to know about it. I call myself an animal rescuer because that is what I do. I started 9 years ago. Every day is a new day, to think differently, solve problems and face new challenges. It’s an unpredictable job in a country like Pakistan, where there are no active laws. I am working against all odds.
Is Rescue Operation A privileged Affair?
I feel the biggest privilege an individual has is his or her health. If one is bestowed with the tools, they must use it. ACF runs with the help of its donors, and the majority doesn’t belong to the elite class. They are salaried people, making a certain amount. Most of them donate, Rs. 500 or 1000, and students give 100 or 200 from their pocket money. But their belief in this task is so big that makes them volunteer. Every individual is doing according to their own capacity. I also have an ambulance service 911 that is functional daily in Karachi on a daily basis. We get around 15 casualties per day like that a dog has been shot, or someone threw boiling water on a cat. At the moment I have 780 animals in ACF, and every day 15 new rescues arrive so you can calculate the exact numbers. So, it’s now about your privilege, what matters is what you do about your privilege.
How To Get Rid From The Culture of Caging Exotic Animals
I feel social media is a blessing but a cuss too. Keeping wild animals at home and displaying it on Instagram is not cool, but a coward act. Wild animals belong in the wild and no one has the right to take any animal out of its natural habitat. If people are determined to do this, at least they should make a sanctuary as we see in countries like Nepal and Africa. It won’t be just beautiful, but the echo system will be preserved, let animals be free and people will get to see them of what they are.
How can Government Support ACF
The best way that the Government can help is to carry forward the programs I design. The programs are for both animals and human beings. For eg. If I am helping a donkey, I am helping its owners and their families too. For the unversed, donkey owners are the largest daily wagers in Pakistan. I will provide a proper cart to the donkey owner with a humane harness, basic donkey behavioral training and medical treatment. Let’s form a union to work efficiently. Donkeys are very smart and if you train them from a young age, they will do their job well. I don’t want any money from the government, I am happy to supervise.
Watch The Complete Episode Here