Our second sanctuary spotlight is Juliana’s Animal Sanctuary, Colombia’s first ever farmed sanctuary. We had the most inspiring opportunity to interview Juliana herself.
Hi, Juliana. Thank you so much for taking time out for LettuceLove.com. So, my first question would be on how the idea for an animal sanctuary came about, and then how did you manage to make it a reality?
Hello, thank you for this opportunity to be on Lettuce Love. Well, determination, that is how dreams come true. From an early age, I was 100% sure what I wanted to do with my life — what my service to the world would be, so at age 11 I started saving money by selling chocolates and vegetarian burgers at my school. Then once I graduated I started to work and continued saving all the money I could. By 2009, with my savings and the help of a friend, Ekala, we each took out a small business loan to buy a small farm and start Colombia’s first ever farmed animal sanctuary — my dream.
Living in Colombia, I imagine it to be a little difficult for a project like this, or was that not the case for you?
It is very difficult. The first thing to understand is that Colombia is not a rich country, and most people here are obsessed with their own personal struggles and not the needs of stray of farmed animals. Our culture is also not too charitable with donations or volunteering, so for many years, Ekala and I struggled to keep the project running. Only recently, with the help of my husband, Paul (the director of Food For Life Global) are we now receiving support from overseas, and I am hopeful that the project will be successful.
Where do you get your inspiration from, if anywhere at all, to carry on with this wonderful project?
Actually, the first time I dreamed about having my own sanctuary, I never realised there were others around the world. All the inspiration I need is in the happiness of the animals we rescue. Their happiness, their desire to survive, and seeing them live healthy lives is all I need to stay motivated.
Do the animals usually come to you, or do you have like a team of some sort where you rescue animals from streets?
Some animals come to me, literally, like I open the door and they are there asking for help! That is how the bull, Balarama came to me. (You can read the full story here: https://www.thedodo.com/mother-cow-saves-calf-1350759329.html)
The sad part is that many of the animals were abandoned here at the sanctuary by people claiming to be “animal lovers.” However, sometimes people call me asking if I can take in an animal they found abandoned. One such case was Perla the piglet who was found by my friend in a garbage can. Perla is now very healthy and happy at our sanctuary.
How many animals do you have at the farm, and which ones?
We currently have 63 animals: 1 cow, 1 ox, 1 horse, 2 pigs, 5 chickens, 4 roosters, 27 dogs, 13 cats, 2 turtles, 2 pigeons, and 5 rabbits with more on the way.
I saw a great video of Pola the Pig. Who’s the newest member of the family?
We have many new rescues since we saved Pola. There is Perla the piglet, Lucy the rabbit, and Claudio the rooster who all have their sad stories.
you can see about Perla here — > https://www.facebook.com/julianasanimalsanctuary/videos/735914493201841/
What do you love the most about your job?
Everything! It’s not easy caring for so many “children.” I cry a lot when I have bad days here. Some days I go without sleep. I have days without money and wonder how I am going to feed the animals. I have sad days when an animal passes away, but if I have to be born again here, I would want to have exactly the same service, because through caring for animals, I can help people to become more compassionate and aware, which can lead us to a better world. I love everything about “my job.”
If someone wanted to help or volunteer and gets hands on at the farm, how can they do this?
There are many ways to help. People can come here to volunteer and we even have a nice volunteer room. Or people can volunteer virtually by helping us with raising awareness and support for our sanctuary over social media, or other technical support. You can check the opportunities here — >http://www.julianasfarm.org/volunteer/
Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?
I want to encourage everybody to try a plant-based diet. Not just for the sake of the animals, but also for the health of their own body; the health of the planet and for world peace. Through the example of the sanctuary, we want to teach equality for all beings — animals, humans and all other species. We all deserve love and respect, and by making one simple adjustment to our diet, we can stop abusing others and change the world. I am 100% certain about this. Animals are our family too. We all part of the Earth family and we have to protect and serve each other like family.
Thank you so much for your time and inspiring us, and the readers to hopefully contribute to the world like you have.
If you would like to help Juliana’s wonderful offering to the world and it’s animals, you can do so in the following ways.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/julianasanimalsanctuary/