I have never been one from shying away from a challenge, or stepping outside the box. Over the years my fear of heights has never deterred me from riding the highest roller coasters and it didn’t stop me from flying in a hot air balloon either. We all face challenges, some more testing than others – but all of them are part of life’s journey.
There could have been no greater challenge though for Jill Robinson, when she founded Animals Asia in 1998 – five years after an encounter with a caged bear on a farm in southern China, it changed her life forever. Learning that bear bile could be replaced by herbs, she vowed to put an end to bear bile farming. Since then, Animals Asia has rescued over 530 bears in China and Vietnam.
Cats and dogs in China are often abandoned and left to subsist on the streets, with many dying due to illness or accidents. Government authorities organise brutal dog-killing campaigns to try to reduce stray dog populations. Stray dogs and cats are also snatched from the streets and pets are stolen and taken to horrific meat markets, where they are sold for human consumption and often suffer a slow, violent death.
Animals Asia has been a key player in raising awareness to the Yulin dog festival, which takes place annually to mark the summer solstice by inhumanely butchering thousands of dogs and cats – some of which are stolen pets.
Working alongside local communities, zoos, businesses, schools and governments, Animals Asia has numerous projects to effect positive changes and this is all achieved by understanding others, compassion and kindness.
After seeing Jill speak in Birmingham earlier this year, I was completely blown away by her devotion, passion and determination to effect change for animals in Asia and I knew I wanted to help. A few days later my mind was made up – I would face the challenge and take part in ‘The great wall of China Trek 2016.’
Those who know my story, are fully aware of the difficulties and challenges I have overcome myself over the past few years. Addiction, debt and severe depression, which was caused by a constant searching for happiness externally. This fueled a possession led mentality and it cost me dearly – I lost almost everything, including my life. But it’s in adverse times we grow and learn, even though we don’t see it at the time and very often when our life seems the most unbearable, we are enlightened to who we truly are. New paths emerge that we would have possibly never considered taking before and our purpose for being here appears through the cracks of the illusionary world, developed only by ourselves.
In a book I have read called ‘How to be Compassionate’ by the Dalai Lama, he speaks about his own life. He quotes…“In my own life, the most difficult periods have been the times when I have gained the most knowledge and experience.”
My devotion to animals has been with me from a child. A little girl who wouldn’t shoo a pigeon, who spent most Sunday afternoons picnicking in the Derbyshire countryside, who grew up and even during the façade still wouldn’t tread on a spider and who has always been passionate about the welfare of every creature on this planet. The only problem was, I didn’t think, or even consider that I could possibly help to make a difference – but we can all help to make a difference!
I will embrace My Great Wall of China Trek Challenge, I will look forward to being part of a team and I will also endeavour to raise as much money as possible for Animals Asia. As a professional speaker and writer, I will also look forward to meeting the locals, learning more about the Chinese culture and spending time with the rescued bears at Chengdu bear sanctuary and with the rescued dogs – who are now working with the blind and disabled. My intention is to bring home all my experiences in order to spread the word through my talks, blogs and articles and share with everyone (including children) – the great work that can be achieved to create a better world for all living beings!
“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” ~ John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
Some of the funding will be raised through a number of my specific future talks/events, where I will be asking for a donation towards the trek in replacement of a fee. However, I am also asking for your help too! This is possibly one of the toughest challenges I have set myself to date and yet I am certain it will be one of the most rewarding too! As part of a team, we will be trekking along some of the most remote parts of the Great Wall of China for up to eight hours a day, over a period of five days. If you feel you would like to make a donation, no matter how small, please click on the button below to my Just Giving page. Thank you in anticipation of your help, this is truly appreciated!
Photos with kind permission of Animals Asia
All funds raised will go towards supporting Animals Asia projects to improve the welfare of Animals in Asia.
Sharon ACV xx