Kathmandu, November, 2016– With the sweet smell of burning incense and chanting of “Namo tassa bhagavato..” the birth place of Gautama Buddha came alive this November when a group of compassionate people joined hands to help animals at Lumbini.
Lumbini is a sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site located at Rupandehi District of Nepal. This is where queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama in 563 BCE who later came to be known as Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism. Lumbini has a number of temples, monuments, monasteries and museums within the holy site and is registered under the World Heritage by UNESCO in 1997.
After a long 9 hour drive from Kathmandu, our team reached Lumbini and it didn’t take us long to realize the condition of our four footed friends in the area. There were piles of garbage full of plastic waste next to the main gate of the holy site from where the starving dogs were feeding. . Not a very holy sight. We also observed that all the stray dogs were following the locals and tourists for food who were busy clicking selfies with Buddha’s statue. “The dogs are so hungry that they even know when it is lunch time for school kid so that they can eat the left overs, ” says Lochan Bomjan, a teacher at Metta School.
The first point of Panchasil with almost faded letters on stone carving indicated the most universal ideal of Buddhism “love for all living beings” which very few visitors had bothered to stop and read. Amidst all these, when we met Guru Venerable Metteyya Sakyaputta and his students and volunteers from Lumbini Social Service Foundation, we instantly understood that there’s still hope for these dogs at Lumbini.
In the beginning of the year 2016 Animal Nepal had organized an anti-rabies vaccination camp at Lumbini and nearby villages in coordination with LSSF. At this camp, Animal Nepal were able to vaccinate 155 dogs and about 59 dogs were also treated against Scabies. During the camp AN realized that a spay and neuter procedure was also essential in the area, so Animal Nepal and LSSF came together again for a 4 day CNVR camp in November with an aim to spay/ neuter and vaccinate 100 dogs.
On the first day of our camp, Animal Nepal team was touched by the warm welcome received from Metteya and other gurus. A brief ‘puja’ followed by ‘prawachan’ from Metteya on compassion for animals was truly a good start for the camp. During the course of 4 days, our team was able spay and neuter 101 dogs from within the holy area which included Mahilwari, Parsa chowk, Khungai and Padariya villages of Lumbini. The CNVR process by Animal Nepal is to catch the dogs from their respective areas, neuter them and vaccinate them against rabies. The dogs were then kept under observation for a day and then released in the same area they were caught from. An ear notch was made to indicate that the dog has been spayed/ neutered. We also sprayed a red paint at the back of the spayed dogs. AN team worked tirelessly for almost 13 hours every day and during the night to make sure no dogs were left un-spayed. During the course of the treatment, our team was taken aback to see that about 80% dogs were suffering from scabies and many female dogs suffering from CTVT Cancer. Besides, most of the dogs were found to be severely malnourished.
During the course of the camp, we also got an opportunity to spend an afternoon with 150 lovely students from Karuna Girls School. We were pleased to see the interest and excitement amongst the students regarding our work. Animal Nepal Founder President Pramada Shah spoke to the students and encouraged them to become an “Animal Protector” of their community. “The dogs of Lumbini are in dire need of help and there is no arguing on this! We need a very strong programme to address the stray dog problem of Lumbini. Community education is much needed as people are really not aware that dog is man’s best friend. They are scared of dogs. Children pick up stones as soon as they see a dog because they grew up seeing their elders do that. We need to change this!” said President Shah.
AN Programme Manager Kapil Kafle, further described the work done by Animal Nepal in helping animals at Kathmandu. He shared some success stories where when abandoned and sick dogs where given timely treatment along with love they made remarkable recovery. The students were inspired and impressed by the recovery of ‘Victor‘ one of our shelter dogs at Chobar Animal Treatment Center who suffered from posterior paralysis.
The best moment for our camp and team was when an abandoned horse was rescued from Kapilvastu on our last day at Lumbini. Discovered by Venerable Guru Metteyya Sakyaputta, Pramada Shah and Naila Sattar , the poor horse was found in a very bad shape with infected a wound with maggots in it on its front left leg. The horse had been dumped by it’s owner at Kapilvastu Bazaar. Animal Nepal team was immediately called for the treatment and rescue of the horse. With the combined efforts of Animal Nepal, Lumbini Social Service Foundation and 7.8 Project, the horse was taken to The Peace Groove Institute. He will now begin the next phase of his life safe and secured at Karuna Girls School, Lumbini under direct care of Guru Metteya.
In the course of the 4 days that we were there days, we observed a lot of starving and dying dogs, we saw children throwing stones to them. We heard people calling us senseless for helping animals instead of human. There were frustrating moments during the course of our work, but at the same we also heard stories of compassion towards the animals which was very encouraging and came across like- minded people working for the benefit of animals. We meditated at Mayadevi temple and lit butter lamps in the name of suffering ones
Last but not the least AN would like to thank Naila Sattar, a philanthropist and a huge animal lover who made this camp possible by building bridge between Animal Nepal and LSSF. Kudos to our volunteers Dharmendra Pal, Akhilesh Tripathi, Sunny Pathak, Bhola Gupta, Sushil Dhakal, Carlotta, Frency, Vennesa, Natalie, Sumana, Gaurav, students from Karuna Girls School , Bhantes from Bodi institute and to every person who played their part and made this camp a huge success. Biggest thanks to guru Metteyya for taking that first step in helping animals of Lumbini and showing us a much clearer path to ‘Dharma’. And mostly to the dogs of Lumbini, “You are the true treasure of Lumbini. We love you and we will be back for you!”