Ann Kennedy: I had a dream…..
I HAD A DREAM . . .
Not long after we first moved permanently to Kuşadası, 10 years ago, we were driving through Davutlar and to my huge distress I glimpsed an injured dog, broken hind leg dangling, which seemed to be trying to commit suicide, hopping into the traffic and being shooed back to the pavement by passers-by and blaring horns. My instinct had been to stop the car, drive back and help the dog – we’d had three dogs and a cat when living in the UK . . . but I had a full-time job teaching English in Aydın to make ends meet so we had neither spare cash to cover vets fees, nor spare time . . . and I didn’t even know if there were such people as vets in Turkey.
The memory of that wretched animal was embedded in my brain . . . I hoped desperately that a kindly passer by had stepped in and helped where I couldn’t. From that day I was destined to find a way of raising money to help street animals, especially the sick and injured.
In England I had for 10 years run a registered child protection charity, and my ambition became to work towards one day setting up another charity, for street animals, here in Turkey. But to do that I would need Turkish citizenship.
Fast forward to February 2018 and after much paperwork and a very long wait, due to the attempted coup in June 2016, both Alan and I were granted Turkish citizenship. This was my go ahead to investigate how to realise my dream.
The Turkish dernek (charitable assocation) system is far from straight forward but I gathered a team of animal-loving friends and together we discussed and put together a proposal. We sought the advice of Burak and Dilek at the Belediye and, having realised that we could not afford the 60,000 tl required to set up a legal Foundation, I finally went to see Abdullah Bey in the District Governor’s office to request that our group could form a Dernek, a legal charity. Just three meetings later, all the paperwork gathered, submitted and approved, we can now legally raise funds to fulfil our ambitions.
Now the hard work begins.
Animal Rescue Kusadası (ARK) – Kuşadası Hayvan Kurtarma Derneği to give it its official Turkish title – will help street animals, especially the sick and injured. We will take them to a veterinary clinic, pay for their treatment, care for them until they are fully-recovered and try to find permanent loving homes for them.
We have also started a neutering programme, and plan to encourage restaurants to give leftover food to street animals and help change attitudes towards street animals, co-operating and collaborating with like-minded organisations.
The day that we became legal, our daughter came to visit for a 10-day holiday so we used this time to consolidate our ideas. One evening, while we were enjoying listening to Haluk playing with a band in a street party on Ladies Beach, I came across Paula and Jan. I knew that they were animal lovers and started a conversation with them, excitedly telling them about our new venture. I mentioned that one major task that lay ahead was to build a website, to publicise our organisation. To my utter amazement Paula said, ”I can do that for you.”
Our paths had been destined to cross that day. Similarly, one day we were taking cats to the Shelter to be neutered and we came across Monika and her husband, İşhan, who were there organising their adoption of 4 street dogs. Whilst waiting, we chatted, and I told Monika about the charity we were trying to set up. She said that our meeting must be destiny – she would be eager to do anything she could to help.
Driving home after taking our daughter to the airport on her homeward journey, I received a message from the Belediye to say that we had been allocated a stand at the four day charity exhibition (kermes) the following weekend! We had nothing prepared, hadn’t even considered that such an event would be possible so soon after being formed.
So, all hands to the deck. This would be an excellent opportunity to recruit new members and raise funds so that we could begin to meet our objectives.
A couple of weeks later we were invited to provide volunteers to run the second-hand clothing and bric-a-brac shop above No 8 Restaurant, in the centre of Kuşadası, which had been established by Chris, a previous owner and passionate cat-lover, in order to fund the neutering of street cats. We were stunned to be given this opportunity and immediately rose to the challenge.
We have since been joined by Brenda, Fatma, Meral, Jane, Mary, Maggie, Sharon, Ayla, Nataliya, Bertie, Pinar, İşhan and our No 8 team, who include Annette, Susan, Ramona, AnnMarie, Marcelle, Mandy, Helen, Gayle & Susie, who have all contributed their ideas and enthusiasm.
Within seven weeks of first receiving official approval for the formation of our animal rescue charity:
our members have elected a Board of Directors and Officers, who will ensure that our charity is run in effectively and legally,
we’ve set up a website,
we have 682 followers in our FaceBook group,
we’ve provided volunteers to run the No 8 charity shop, which raises funds to neuter cats,
we’ve agreements with 5 vet practices to treat sick and injured street animals to be funded by ARK and
we’ve already helped 44 animals in the name of ARK.
An amazing beginning. Long may we grow and make a difference to the street animals of Kuşadası.
So please visit our website (http://animalrescuekusadasi.org) and join our FaceBook group (animalrescuekusadasi) . . . and do all you can to help street animals and fulfil my dream. Many thanks to everybody who has made a donation so far.