Wednesday 21 October 2015

What they said about us...

We always want our participants to feel good, to learn something new in a fun way and gain as more experience as possible. This is what some of them wrote after the project finished.

I’m very happy that I’ve decided to participate in this project. I’ve got a lot of useful information. I’ve got to know a lot of new things about pet animal needs and most importantly rights in different countries. Also I’ve found out about carrier opportunities in animal welfare field in the UK, improved my English language skills and met a lot of interesting people and made new friends. The information was relevant and clearly presented and a lot of group exercises really helped with understanding it. I think that the project organization was also really good.

           In general it was very interesting and useful project for me, as I understand now, I didn't knew a lot of simply things about pets (about their needs, food, care and protection). So almost all discussions and presentations improved my knowledge about that.

           I really loved the presentations about animal welfare and animal protection. We have learnt a lot, and now I feel that I know much more about these topics. Also I hope that I have improved my English knowledge too. I really loved the traditional nights with the delicious foods (and I was very happy to see that almost everybody loved our food :)). I enjoyed to visit the shelter, it was very memorable for me. Also I really loved the breath-taking seaside. Yes, the project absolutely meet my expectations. I have learnt a lot about animal welfare and animal protection. I really loved the people, the place, the presentations and the beautiful seaside too.  

         I was the most interested about the animal shelter in Plymouth, and the mentality towards animals in England and other countries. I learnt a lot about cats and animal protection in other countries. I got to know the customs and foods/drinks of other nationalities. I enjoyed the city of Plymouth, the beautiful seashore and the island, animal shelter and the beautiful white dog, international nights with other nations’ food and drink. Yes, I’m glad that I could take part in this project.

I decided to take part of this project, because it was the first time when I received the challenge to be a team leader and I totally enjoyed it. The most interested part of the project was regarding the way we should fead our pets (not everything we eat is also good for them). I had the opportunity to increased my knowledge about animal welfare too and British culture. I enjoyed orientation game, cultural nights, performance on animal welfare subject. The project had been a really good one. 
                         Dragonici Dana

I have been working as a volunteer for the Dog Shelter of Szekszárd for 2 years. I am interested in animal protection and I wanted to improve my English knowledge.I like meeting new people from foreign countries. It is interesting to get to know people from other countries, I can learn a lot about their culture.The project has met my expectations.I have studied a lot of new things about animal welfare, about other cultures and about English culture.
Adam Norbert Vesztergombi

Because I am a volunteer of the Dog Shelter and Szekszárd, and I rescue homeless cats and take care of them. I intended to know more about animal protection and I wanted to improve my basic English knowledge. At the same time I enjoy to meet people from other countries and the culture of foreign countries is very interesting for me.I have studied a lot about animal welfare, the legislation of other countries, about charity work and volunteering. I have learnt a lot of new English words, idioms and phrases.Yes, the project totally met my expectations.I really appreciated Svetlana’s efforts and the work of Amber Initiatives. I was really glad to participate in this valuable project.
Alexa Trumpek

Hungarian team (on the picture above), wrote a great article about project and their participation in it. They published it in local newspaper and can be also found on their organisation website. You can also read English translation on their website here.  

Thursday 8 October 2015

Day 10

Everything has to come to the end. And we finished our 10th and the last day of the project by completing final evaluations, receiving Youth pass certificates and by having closing ceremony with lots of farewell hugs and  pictures. 


Day 9

For the 9th day we came back to telling famous stories. Who are the pets on the portraits, which writers used their cats as inspiration, and who are famous cats in books?


The first book we talked about is Pets in Portraits written by Robin Gibson. The book explores images with the remarkable stories of the animals of some of history’s most notable figures that can be found in the National Portrait Gallery in London. From Jack, the pet swan of the world famous prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, to Dizzy, the beloved pug of one of history’s most controversial divorces, Wallace Simpson, the book is full of inspiring and fascinating stories on our faithful animal counterparts.

Have you heard about book A Street Cat Named Bob? This best-selling book tells a story of street musician James Bowen and his cat Bob. When he found an injured cat curled up in the hallway of his apartment building, he had no idea how much his life was about to change. He slowly nursed Bob back to health and then sent the cat on his way, imagining that he would never see him again. But Bob had other ideas...

Did you know that cats were popular pets of many famous writers? Ernest Hemingway and his cat Snowball. During the writer's travels, he was gifted a six-toed cat he named Snowball. He liked the cat so much that in 1931, when he moved into his Key West home, he let Snowball run wild, creating a small colony that populated the grounds. Today, some 40 to 50 six-toed descendants of Snowball are still allowed to roam around the house. Polydactyl felines are sometimes called “Hemingway Cats.”

 In the evening we participated in story telling activity where we had to role play different stories. The goal of the exercise was to show examples of the potential problems that appear in the families that have pets and how those problems can be constructively solved. One of the groups played a story when parents bring a puppy for the child, and the child does not treat it nicely. Parents had to teach child how to love a new pet and take care of it. The exercise was very interactive, and we had a lot of fun watching some of the participant meowing, barking and crawling around representing pets of the family.

Day 8

      Today we explored career opportunities in animal welfare. There are number of BA and MSc programs available for people interested in animal welfare such as, Training and Skills Development officer, Animal Welfare and Conservation and Animal Psychologists.
After coffee break, we played team building game. The goal of the game was to make us think about impact of having stray animals in the city and their effect on economy, society and environment. 

  1. Participants were asked to pick a name of their partner from the box with cards, where the names are written, and each group receive a number (1,2 or 3). This number will be a group number.
  2. Form a pair and seat in a circle with another two pairs with the same group number. Now each circle has 3 pairs. Each pair receive the card with a realm (Economy, Environment, Society). 
  3. Each person has 3 minutes to formulate their answer to a question ‘What is the impact on local economy/economy/society of stray dogs and cats? The group can discuss the answer or ask additional questions. 
  4. When time is over, each pair with similar realm gather together, discuss their finding and prepare a summary for the rest of the group.  
The activity helped us to realise that stray animals represent potential source of problems and have to be considered more seriously in some countries. The interesting fact is that it was easy to find negative outcomes of having stray animals, but it was much harder to find positive sides. 

The second part of the day was free time where we had an opportunity to explore Plymouth and most of us went to see the Plymouth Aquarium.

Thursday 1 October 2015

Day 7

Today we talked about volunteering in a local animal welfare organisation, education for children and using animals for therapy. A few participants already had great experience in volunteering or education for children, so during this session they shared their experience and thoughts with the group.  

After the coffee break, Dana, one of the participants from Romania, prepared a presentation about welfare education for children. Education for children is very important, because we often meet with kids who don't know how to act around animals, and sometimes, because of the lack of knowledge may cause them harm. 

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) wants animal welfare education (AWE), to become an integral part of formal curricula around the world. Its effective delivery results in the development of empathy, morals, ethics and values in the children who experience it. Teaching the younger generations these values is essential in changing the lives of the millions of animals that suffer from cruelty across the globe.

What do children think about animals? Children love to be around animals, and undoubtedly there is a benefit in physical interaction, particularly in encouraging empathy towards animals. However,caution must be applied. Using animals in education section of this pack for all the requirements that must be met for teachers  and parents to consider keeping animals at school or home. During this session we discussed how we should properly educate our kids and what's needed for proper education. 

How to teach children in schools:
  • Interviewing a veterinarian 
  • Inviting an animal shelter staff member to visit the class/group
  • Searching for reliable information on pet care 
  • Making a poster for school asking kids to submit their pet care tips 
  • Visiting a shelter or doing some actions on volunteering at a shelter for animals 

The second part of the day focused on use of animals for the therapy. Every year thousand of people, are getting better thanks to spending time with their animal friends. In the presentation, Noemi, the participant from Hungary, highlighted how animals help us to get better. In groups we discussed most popular types of animal therapy, its benefits and shared our experiences.

Participants from Lithuania, who had experience with taking care of the horses, were asked to make a presentation about their work. They explained what they do as part of the training, how to care for horses and also other beneficial reasons for spending time horse-riding, such as animal therapy.

Day 6

Visiting local NGO 

Today we visited local charity  Woodside Sanctuary. For most of the participants this was their first visit to the UK Animal Shelter in general. Here they could compare how Britain takes care of animals and what kind of care animals here need. After return, we discussed role of NGOs and UK legislation. Together we talked about how they work in UK and what are well-known practices.

Later that day, in the afternoon session, we also talked about animal protection and specifics of cats physiology that makes such interesting creatures, analysing videos and laws about animal protection in UK legislation. We talked about UK best practice (RSPCA, Cat Protection, PDSA, International Cat Care) and types of activities. To compare UK to other European countries, in February 2015 UK released this video from the mentioned party political broadcast on behalf of cats! Owners and their gorgeous cats explain how politicians can make a better world for cats. 

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Day 5

Explaining roles of cats in history


Today we decided to look at the cats in different cultures, and how people cared about them throughout the history, and how it changed in modern times. Each group researched one aspect of cats in history, and then they presented their finding to others.

For example, did you know cats also had a big religious role in Islam? Prophet Muhammad was tender and kind towards cats. He appreciated cats as a cat once saved his life. Hazrat Muhammad's  favourite cat was called Muezza. There is a well-known story regarding the Prophet and Muezza. Even to this day cats are the only animals allowed in mosques. 

Cats have always had big importance in history. In Egypt, where they were viewed as guardians of the underworld. Cats can be also frequently found in ancient Greece. For example famous superstition about black cats being seen as omen of death comes from Greece - in ancient times black cats were thought to be an omen of death because of their connection with Hecate, goddess of magic and necromancy. Interesting comparison with old British mythology, where white cat that is viewed as bad omen. Greece also introduced one of the first concepts of animal protection and rights. Famous philosopher Pythagoras added concept of animal rights into philosophy, and all his life fought for protection of their rights, often contradicting Aristotle who said animals were inferior to human and are there to only serve our needs. 

In Japan, cat Maneki Neko is a symbol of good fortune. Have you heard about cat island in Japan, inhabited by hundredths of cats? The island Aoshima, is famous for being cat domain. Small fishing village is literally surrounded by cats, they outnumber humans six to one on the island.

However, taking care of the animals doesn't have have only bright side. One of the main tasks today was to tackle the issue of animal rights and cruelty against animals. Participants researched how people cared for animals in history compared to modern times in different countries. In group work, participants were asked to explore the questions about responsible ownership or how religion in countries made difference towards treatment of animals. For example, Arabic countries have stronger law considering treatment of cats than Christian countries in Europe where animal right were a bit benevolent. However, UK still poses as a great example in animal right protection.