Amruta Ubale of Animal Equality India writes:
Compassion towards animals is inherent in children. However, most humans lose this aspect of our nature due to conditioning. Therefore, we felt the need to highlight the natural bond that exists between children and animals. This led us to our program – Seeds of Compassion – in which children interact, bond, and play with different animals.
Similar to any other part of the world, people in India too relate and empathize with certain animals such as dogs and cats. Through this program, we facilitate children’s interaction with animals exploited for food, clothing, entertainment and transport. The objective is to help children realize that all animals feel pain and it is not justified to care for one and kill another.
We started the Seeds of Compassion program with a small group of 30 children. These children were of different age groups, and from different religions and class – which portrayed compassion has no bounds. The children got the opportunity to interact, connect, and play with animals such as hens, pigeons, rabbits, cows, goats, dogs, cats, horses and donkeys. All animals had unique names, the pigeon was called Bebo, the rabbit was called Caramel and so on. Children named the animals who had no names. They called the calf Choco, the donkey Starsky…
Most of these children do not have companion animals and have never been near them. Initially, the children showed hesitation, but within few minutes they got comfortable with the animals. The children got close to the animals, touched them and petted them. Some children even cried because they had to return home leaving the company of their new furry, feathery friends.
The response from both children and parents was overwhelming. The parents encouraged the children throughout the program. One parent who had accompanied her two sons and daughter shared with us that she had never before touched an animal. When we approached the homes of hens and pigeons, their companion humans showed us ways to hold them, but the children were a little nervous to touch and hold the birds. The lady who had never touched any animal stepped in and held the hens. She then volunteered to show the children how to interact with hens and pigeons.
There was a four year old girl who was very scared of the animals. Her mother who accompanied her to the program shared, “When she didn’t eat, we used to scare her showing the street dogs. I feel that because of this she is scared of animals. I was feeling guilty due to this and wanted her to get over her fear of animals. So when I heard of your program, I thought this would be the best opportunity for her. After the program, I feel she has opened up a bit.”
There were three children in the group who had dogs as companion animals. We visited their homes to meet their lovely companions. We got the chance to witness the children playing, running, and having fun with their canine friends.
We present to you a series of photos from our first Seeds of Compassion program that took place on May 22, 2012. Through these pictures, we aim to highlight the natural bond existing between children and animals.
Kartik Rathod, a photographer from Bombay, kindly offered his services to capture these beautiful moments.