Pilgrim's Diary

The Streets of My Homeland
by Josie
originally posted at Quest2Canaan on Jun 24, 2010

"For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other; they all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from dust, and all turn to dust again."  Ecclesiastes, 3:19-20.

While the quote is proven true so many times, however, the fate of animals around the world does not seem to resonate with the holy warning. Especially in under developed or third world countries, poverty, lack of education, social gap, and corruption often lead to rationalization to abuse natural resources that lead to environmental destruction.

In countries where the lurk of capitalism echoes the promise of better living, what was once the need to survive was manipulated and turned into greed , with most of the time with total ignorance and negligence to nature. People made forget of what they made of, and made to see no existence other than their own race.

Particularly in Indonesia, where I live, schools have never failed to mention that we are blessed with such beauty, that our country was called "tropical paradise" We were taught that our country is rich, that 20% of all the rain-forests in the world lied still on the virgin areas of Borneo and Sumatera, and our rivers richly invested with variety of fish and plants.

Somewhere during the early years in our education, we are made to know that 80% of our nation are made from seas, each with its own uniqueness and natural resources, and never once our teachers forget to tell that all of our island were passed over by all of the two volcanic belts, another generous gift from our Lord that made our land fertile. So fertile that one of our folk song said "throw a rock on the ground, you will grow corn"

The only thing they fail to teach us is that Indonesia also is the country with fastest deforestation (4% a year), a fact that driven our president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to enforce a "one man, one tree" campaign, in (desperate?) attempt to restore our lost forests to plantation and excessive human encroachment.

Though itself bound under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) which stipulates that endangered species must not be traded, Indonesia doesn't have animal welfare law to protect its animal diversity, a state that give us the chance to be in constant war against our neighbor: the animals.

By law, only licensed wildlife hunters and traders are allowed to capture and trade animal parts in Indonesia. However, in its investigations released last year,  the infamous animal right organization PETA found most hunters did not have permits.

The Forestry Ministry Directorate General of Nature Conservancy and Forest Protection (PHKA) oversees the licensing and quotas for wildlife trade in Indonesia. PHKA director general Darori said his office provided permits to groups of skin collectors as well as hunters.

Every year, his office releases a quota for the wildlife trade, based on recommendations from the Indonesia Institute of Sciences (LIPI). “LIPI checks whether there is an abundant stock or not. We’re bound to an international convention as well,” Darori said.

Unfortunately - deliberate or not -  he sequentially add that “The ones who trap the snakes and lizards are villagers. They sell the skins to licensed collectors. It’s not possible for every single villager to obtain a permit”

According to the PHKA data, the total quota for 2010 is 430,280 snakes; 413,100 monitor lizards, and 29,500 crocodiles, but the kill number is much higher on the streets.

In the video footage of its yearlong investigation, PETA Asia Pacific released video footage from its yearlong undercover investigation of gruesome killing of snakes and lizards in five Indonesian cities. A National Geographic report shows that Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s biggest exporter of wildlife, including live animals for pets and animal parts.

In one of PETA's footage shows a man in Tangerang chopping off snake heads and skinning their slithering bodies while the mouths of their severed heads are still opening and closing. In another shot, a light green lizard monitor is held by two men while they drain the blood from its throat.

A snake head is chopped off by a man in Tangerang, highlighting some of the gruesome killing occurring in five Indonesian cities. A National Geographic report states that Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s biggest exporter of wildlife, including live animals for pets and animal parts. 
Courtesy of PETA Asia Pacific

 Confronting the finding, Darori said his office made sure animals were not tortured during the killings. “So, when a snake’s head is cut off, it is not tortured,” he said, arguing that Laymen would torture snakes they encounter, out of fear, compared to professional hunters.

“Because the skin is what hunters are after, they do it swiftly so the skin is not damaged. Commoners would batter a snake with a stick if they found one,” he said.

In a more remote part of the country, a wealthy landlord in Medan can be seen bragging his crocodile farm, when piles of saltwater or freshwater alligators been taken captive in filthy condition, piled up one on top of the other, stoically waiting to be slaughtered before their skin is exported to Hermes or other high brand fashion for bags, clothes, or shoes.

Worker picks up a saltwater crocodile (crocodylus porosus) at a crocodile breeding facility in Jayapura, Papua, on Friday. The facility is breeding some 7,500 crocodiles for their valuable skins to make leather products for export to countries such as Singapore, Japan and Italy. 
(Antara/Oka Barta)

Those are just some example, though those who has time to search the internet will be overwhelmed by the result.  The notoriety of Indonesian trade in animal products have been well known around the world, calling various environmentalists and conservationists to spend much, if not all, of their effort restoring what we proudly exploit to no limit.

Ironically, while everyone else were busy fighting for animal welfare for Indonesia, Darori (yes, the director of Indonesia's natural conservatory) instead said that Indonesia’s local fashion industry should use animal parts and develop its own brands.

“We can make them as good as international brands. It’s just that our brands are not as big as international labels,” he said.

His statement boldly answered questions of why tiger skin, leopard's fur, elephant's ivory, and rhino's tusk down to the most docile rabbit to tiny hamsters were freely traded and hunted to extinction.

Just like how the crocodiles lives solely as financial means of their owners, cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, birds, reptiles, are exploited to their tiniest being for their mater's maximum profit.

Here in Indonesia, it is the pet who feed the owner, not the other way around. The more exotic the breed, the more expensive, the higher the status of their owner and therefore, the more they can sell their pets.

What happened to the rest is a question of the strength of your gut. Cats are being crushed over, living goldfish thrown to the sewer, and while majority of Indonesian are Muslims who thinks dogs are unholy (haram) their fate is much worse.

Horses are often forced to carry harvests several times their own weight. or beaten to drag the whole carriage-full of the entire neighborhood. The owner beating them to continue walking despite their foamy mouth, and when they are not strong enough to carry anymore, mostly from malnutrition or sickness, they are sold to slaughter, or been butchered by the owner himself , their meat cooked, making room to catch another one.

Rabbits are breeding machines. The older ones were butchered for their fur, while their meat sold by the street as traditional barbecue.

It's not easy to handle, to be frank, and never will be easy. Being an animal advocate in a country with no conscious (Indonesia is the most corrupted country in the Asia Pacific during 2008 - 2009, mind you) means you would have to mend your own heart whenever it breaks along each abuse.

Most often, we are the bullied ourselves. When trying to save an animal, people who thinks we do useless things take out their frustration on us, seeing us more as their enemy. Our lives were deliberately made more difficult, and they wouldn't stop at nothing to break us. After all, when living (read: money) is a hard thing to do, you can't even blame yourselves anymore.

But animal rescue is the blood that has been passed down in my family for generation, starting from when my great great grandfather moved in from Yunan, China, to the day when my Japanese father join the force in saving the non humans: an inheritance I proudly accept, and a purpose I willingly give to drive my life.

So all these years, like my parents and the fathers before them, I have been trying to do whatever in my capability to serve them, although compared to ll the abuse story I hear and witness, my doing would be but a tiny dew in the ocean.

I neglect social networking, and though I am not an antisocial I limit myself from going to the mall and gossiping in the cafe, choosing to work extra hours instead so that I can safe more animals, or pay the vet bills.

I only dreamed of a small place, a tiny house for one or two person with a small garden where all the tired street cats or dog can just escape from their tiresome life for a while and rest while I took care of their wounds. I yearned of a tree where the birds doesn't have to fear of hunter's gun, I relentlessly prayed to give my whole service for those animals: conceived without sin to mankind, yet mortally paying with their life, dying on the streets of my homeland.

I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish this race and complete this task my Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying the gospel of God's grace
– Acts 20:24

It's just that, things were going out of the line a little bit, and I was hospitalized with severe typhoid (it's 7 out of 10 in scale of severity) and swollen liver due to overworking.

To make the story more self pity inducing, Indonesia has no social security, so I was also left to pay more than US$ 2,000 for my medication all by myself.

So I have this choice: leaving this cursed "tropical paradise" (or so they said in the tourism leaflet) and return to my father's homeland, or stay in Indonesia with nothing to feed my refugees and myself.

It's an easy choice: I stay.

I do not know how I would live with an empty wallet and zero saving account. I do not know how I would be able to continue feeding my refugees, or pay the vet bill, but I have been taught that the value of one person lies in his faith on his cause.
But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.
~2 Chronicles 15:7
It's a downright stupid choice and reasoning, really. But Japan has Sensui Sannosuke and the many underground animal advocates. My beloved whales had Pierce Brosnan and Paul Watson. Canada has Nigel Barker and Senator Mac Harb defending their seals, Australia, UK, even South Africa has their own fighters, but if I am to go, who will stand for Indonesia?

Taking this path, I know I won't be able to do it alone again, if I want to live long enough to care for the animals, and that is why I confided with one of my very best friends, who then give me her wisdom in appealing for help.

Learning from my previous experience with Paypal (see the post below) I come to learn about ChipIn, a fund raising widget that will allow me to raise fund as a personal and private rescue. Unfortunately, however, my old blog in Wordpress doesn't allow any widget unless I pay more than US$ 20 per month, a sum I would rather save to buy some food or first aid for animals.

So I then choose to move everything to Blogger so that I can fund raise while maintaining information for my supporters.

The big news is, just like I will tell and re-tell,  there's the magic of currency differences that cause 1 US$ to worth 9,000.00 Indonesian rupiah. What about that? not everyday your single dime can turn into a mountainous of good karma, and huge help for a private refugee house, so there's no need to be shy, because even when you enter only half a dollar, it worth one meal for a cat here, and one meal for a cat means another day to live, on the streets of my homeland.

Raison d'Etre: Audacity of Hope
by Sensui Sanosuke
originally posted at Quest2Canaan on April 21, 2010
with several modification and correction to match current condition.

When Josie launched this blog, she only have one thing in mind: saving the lives of the strays who counted on her daily visit. Her pocket had been empty for a week, she barely survived all the bills, face yet another challenge from her landlord (I still cannot comprehend what is it with that guy), and have to count on the grace of her regular pet shop, who knows what she is doing and mercifully let her take whatever food she need and pay later.

She faced countless of sneers, rejection, humiliation, harassments, sometimes even physical abuse for doing what she does, but she keeps going. She answer every rejection with courtesy, and explain all of her action with humility, she did get mad sometimes, but above all else, she keeps going.

She never expect that anyone would help. One or two, maybe, but not really much. Internet may have sweet face, but often reveal a stiff heart, yet she keeps going.

Today, after taking her Goldie from the vet to spay/neuter, she found the fence locked. The landlord apparently have someone change the locks that she cannot go in, and when given a call, instead telling her to wait until he's done with his business (who knows when), making her ended up waiting under the full sun for more than three hours before she rode back to the vet and requested that Goldie can stay there for the rest of the afternoon, and return to the office. If you wanted to know, the fence was opened at five p.m, another four hours after Josie waited wastefully by the gate.

She wasn't broken.

With some help from a friend, her blog soar high though the World Wide Web, and draw attention of many. Together, angels around the world flocked over to lend her a hand, resulting in some USD 507.01.
Though that amount can only cover half of Renoir and Picassa's treatment, she never lose hope. "There's always way" so she said, and therefore she keeps on trying. USD 507.01 is a very good start, though the traffic in her Paypal account alarmed the company, that resulting in her account being frozen because it was deemed "potentially high risk"

Certainly, Paypal never mention that they can just freeze an account because it is suddenly active. They did say that any member can start receiving money in the instant of their account verification, but definitely were shocked enough to see how much people come and lend a hand.

The giant also cheated on her, by charging her some fee while converting USD into Indonesian before she withdraw her fund, froze her account, and therefore charge another amount to reverse the money back into US.
That doesn't include blocking her account from receiving anymore fund for the same reason.

And so another door was closed for her. Until she resolve the dispute with Paypal, she will not be able to withdraw her money.

She keeps going.

She appeal and appeal, while harshly rejected by Paypal, until she called her lawyer friend to explain to Paypal how different is the nature of Indonesian "business" compared to those in US, and that she is Indonesian citizen, and therefore, Paypal cannot override her with US law.

Well, they still freeze the account, so anyone who wants to make donation would have to do it by bank transfer (contact Josie to get the detail).

Reading all the comments that came in, aside from the donation, Josie has never been so shocked in a happy sort of way, but holding her tears she gracefully reply to each and everyone of her supporter. The  word of encouragement sent to her was overwhelming, though not all of the incoming comment was an encouragement.

Some question what she was up to with all her action, some said she should stop now before she broke down due to lack of support from the government itself regarding animal welfare. Some said similar things: that she battled alone amidst raging war, and it will be such unfortunate if she still deny the obvious loss.

The others just tell her to follow the mainstream, that is: go shopping, watch the movie, get laid, follow latest fashion, and be happy. Forget about the cats, unless they can make money for you.

In short, this life is just not feasible.

Still, instead of admitting her loss as she's been told, or trashing the discouraging messages, she replied:

You will laugh to my unusual talent, but I wish to draw you back to the day when Barrack Obama was elected president. This man, a new baby to lawmakers, and a fresh man to politics was awarded the crown for his intelligence and pure intention.

His election had brought historical moment not only to your country, but also to the rest of the world.
Drawing all the spotlights and euphoria of this world class dream-come-true drama to my lonesome, private life, I felt that I am compelled to step up to the crown myself. With my various history, and as much intelligence, I should have been able to claim the presidency of my own fate.

While the audacity of his hope has already heard, and answered, the impudence of my mind has yet to be known. While the change he seeks has gained the chance, my sheer ideology has yet to seize the day.

But if this man, out of his inner nature can come and take the world, why can't I? If this man, out of his traits as a detached and loner, can gain the trust of millions, why can't we?

I have debts to return, bills to pay, and ten lives that its owner entrusted to me, but if I am to try, I will get by, one way or another. I have no laws to back me up, or friends to keep me company, but if I keep going,I'll meet someone . After all, even  when all hell broke lose on earth, there will be one light that stays in the deepest box of our heart: HOPE, that will keep us going.

True that this little lady inherited her talent to write louder than words themselves from me, but she never fails to amaze me at how she willingly, and firmly walk her talk. Not half of my relatives, nor fellow animal welfare activists can stand so faithfully to what she believe.

So if you can't bring her down, if you cannot even shake her, why not join her? There's this Chip In widget that you can click up there, and if you have any to spare, feel free to drop a coin or two, just to say "Hey, you're not alone"

A Journey of Thousand Miles That Start With One Step
by Josie
originally posted in Quest2Canaan on April 8, 2010

It's a Chinese proverb, but it is true to my journey as an animal advocate. My journey of thousand miles begins with a small step of a cat.

I rent a room in a boarding house when I moved to other city to work, and the landlord have a cat. Though she never has a name, she was sweet and kind, and never once endanger the landlord's 3 years old son.

And that would mean staying quiet when he kicked her, throwing pebbles to her, staying in a carton box outside the house under open sky because he deliberately close the door, or running her over with his small bike.

I told his parents that the boy needed attention, and that the cat should be neutered because she stayed outside a lot, but I guess, every parents would stand by their kids, and join the laugh whenever the boy pulled out "kid's stunt" on their cat.

By the way, did I mention that they only feed her with plain white rice and water?

When the cat goes pregnant, the boy turned 4, and his kicks were well-trained. His punches were more accurate, and since she is slower, the bike can run over her more often.

So she ran upstairs, and hid in my room.

I never objects. Never once. I quietly bought proper cat food for her whenever I went to work, smuggled a litter box (so she doesn't have to sneak outside and got busted) and shrug when the whole family asked me if I saw their missing cat.

I call her: Grace. I cannot bring my rescued pet dog when I move because muslim don't like dogs, but I was really in pain because I can't get close to animals I love. So the cat is a grace from heaven.

She is quiet, and sweet, her movement so solemn, and charming. She is as graceful as a princess.

And she gave birth to her five kittens by my side, laying on my arm. I don't care if I have to clean the mattress afterward if the blood stained. She is my amazing Grace.

All of her kittens have gone to a new home, except one (that one sleeping on mom's head), who always run away whenever I wanted to take his picture. He doesn't like being hold, he doesn't like to snuggle, never home, but is always there, sleeping on my foot when I wake up in the morning, purring loudly as if the world is deaf.

And there comes the other, and another and other. Each of them with their own near death story.

I am growing worries when the number grow, but I don't think pretending not to see those unfortunate cat and go on is an option. I believe that one way or another, I would be able to get life by.

To make ends meet, an extra job is fine. First one, then two, now three. In between those work, and during weekends, I volunteer for an animal advocacy activities, or use my other talent to campaign for animal welfare.

I write articles, or stories - fiction or non fiction about animal welfare. From educating, knowledge sharing, campaigning, supporting other writer on his/her campaign on animals, and even fund-raising.

However, due to the increasing demand of my refugees (they grow up) or the special condition they are in, I ended up using my weekend working as well, but I am grateful that though we do not live lavish life, we still manage to support other shelters, or other animal welfare cause. We manage to do Trap N Return for other animal we are unable to foster, and by that we save the whole line of generation from abuse and neglect (or so we hope).

Then the next challenge: my landlord is trying to drive me away by limiting my access to utilities. First he refuse to change broken light bulbs, then reduce the electricity capacity on the room I rented, then refuse to repair the broken water pipe, and when I still manage all those for the sake of my refugees, he continue to raise the price, for reasons he never willing to expose. Pay, or go. Sometimes, he would just answer me with question like "If you manage to keep all those cats by yourself, you've got to be rich enough to pay for more rent". I guess he forgot that I have to support my mother too back home.

That and the campaign I have been running by myself to help suffering dogs in neighboring country (read: The Garden of The House Next Door Is [not] always Greener).

It's not easy to find other place that can accept so many animals, and though I am willing to live on the street, I wanted my refugees to stay safe. They each suffer enough, so I hold on despite all the pressure, while hoping that it won't over limit my resources.

So here I am, penniless and broke, with many mouths to feed, many lives to care. Those who knows my condition said that I have made a wrong decision when I took those cats in.  Some other said I am totally stupid. The other suggested that I wake up to reality: that I am poor and it's not the time for me to build this mini shelter or whatever the name is. One of my associate told me to get the cats back to the street and build another when I get enough money. I can't take any more loan because I've reach my limit.

It's the most visible, most convenient thing to do indeed, they are all stray cats anyway, they can go out again, scavenging from trash to trash to live, but, is that the right thing?

I never used to beg. Whatever I want, or need, I work for it. That is why I never publish my shelter. I gave it a name, just for fun, but never really intend to sponge to others. I have always been so full of myself, and I have always been proud to be able to fight in benefit of those in need.

I used to write to support others, I now write to support... myself. It's not a sin,and it's kind of hard to admit for the first time, but if writing is the only thing that I can do now to help my refugees, then let's do it.

Let's finish this; journey of thousand miles, that Grace started for me with one step. I wanted to see my refugees see through their promised land, the Canaan in the far distant.

There's this yellow button at the sidebar, inside a red rectangle that said "Chips for our quest" that if you click on, will send you to a paypal page where you can fill in any number you want. Don't be shy, because here in Indonesia, even USD 1 will worth IDR 9,000.00. So actually, you can do less, with huge impact. If you are not sure if I am delirious or just being wacky, you are free to use the currency calculator provided. Indonesia Currency is Rupiah, or IDR, or Rp. But if you donate from Indonesia, the ten thousand fold offer won't work, sorry.

If you feel like you want to send in your cash by yourself, however, feel free to contact me. I'll be more than happy to send you the details, but I won't be that happy to lick all over your face like Woofy or Fido back there, so you can rest assured.

Don't have cash but want to send in anything? sure. I'll build a list of what the refugees might want, but for the time being, contact me and I'll also be as happy to send details.

Thanks before, though, and thanks again.