When 31-year-old Ricky Teja went to Friendicoes, an animal welfare NGO, last weekend to adopt a cat, he returned home rather disturbed. A conversation with a volunteer at the Defence Colony NGO revealed how Friendicoes is facing a financial crunch and will most likely shut down. It was then that Teja, co-owner of Summerhouse Cafe — a popular hang-out place in Aurobindo Market — decided to raise funds. Now, every Wednesday for the next two months, the collection made at the entry will be matched by Summerhouse Cafe, which will then go to Friendicoes.
Ever since news of the NGO’s troubles went viral, individuals and groups across the city have sprung into action. “At the moment, we have 320 animals at the Delhi centre and 1,300 at the Gurgaon centre. We have run up a debt of Rs 82 lakh, and are in a situation where we can’t afford to pay for food or medicines. We also had to discontinue the night ambulance,” said Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Friendicoes. For almost 40 years, the NGO has been taking in injured and abandoned animals, without charging a fee. It is wholly dependent on donations made by patrons.
With 115 people working at the two centres, Seshamani said Friendicoes spends approximately Rs 3 crore every year on salaries, food, rent and medicines. “We have been appointed to do the sterilisation drive at two areas in the city by the municipal corporation. They owe us Rs 38 lakh since October 2014,” said Seshamani. The corporation had cited lack of funds for not paying the NGO.
Meanwhile, a bunch of students from Lady Shri Ram (LSR) and Sri Venkateswara colleges have begun a collection drive for Friendicoes and other smaller organisations. “It is on till Friday and we are accepting materials such as blankets, old collars, rice, milk, biscuits, antiseptic liquids, and other dog items,” said Saachi Bhatia, a Political Science student at LSR. The collection is being done at National Park, behind LSR, from 12.45 pm to 1.15 pm.
Similarly, 31-year-old Shruti Chadha, who runs a digital marketing firm in Delhi, has come up with an event for Friendicoes. “Along with some photographer friends, we are going to come up with an art gallery of sorts at Summerhouse by September. They will be framed photos of rescued animals at Friendicoes, all up for sale. The proceeds will go to the NGO,” she said.
Seshamani said, “I am overwhelmed by the initiatives. I also got a call from clothing label Vajor. They are creating t-shirts to save the NGO, and the proceeds will go to Friendicoes.”
A petition on change.org asking the corporation to pay up is also in full swing. Friendicoes, too, has started an online appeal asking patrons and animal lovers to donate money to keep it afloat.
Donations can be made on http://www.bitgiving.com/Friendicoes
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