ARA (Animal Rescue Algarve) has managed to work yet more magic in its hometown of Loulé.
By charming visitors and involving local schoolchildren from 11 Almancil schools, a delightful book has been created, full of stories, drawings, messages, poems – and an overwhelming sense of love and responsibility for animals of all shapes and sizes.
Animal welfare should never be ‘political’ but sadly in Loulé it became so – to the point that the shelter, known as Cabanita and which really has to be seen to be appreciated, spent its early stages fighting a demolition order.
Happily that is all now in the past. The PS Socialist council has finally agreed there is a way of ‘making sure’ ARA gets its licence, and the opposition PSD has been so impressed with the work performed at Cabanita that Rui Cristina, its Algarve MP – and candidate for mayor of Loulé in the upcoming municipal elections – officially presented the book at the shelter last week, stressing how important it is to involve children in ARA’s mission.
ARA’s founder Sid Richardson admits, “this book is probably the best means of communication we have ever done”.
Schoolteacher Manuela Coelho who coordinated the children’s side of the project as part of the school citizenship curriculum said that another magical aspect of the contributions that flooded in was that they were done over ‘lockdown’, when children were at home with their parents. As a result, lots of parents became involved, and seem to have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Said Rui Cristina said: “My ambition is to see my country, our country, on a list of those that really take care of their animals. And we will only get there if our children are educated in this direction”.
But the book would never have happened without the impetus of animal lovers and couple Tony and Sarah Wyld, who produce poetry books for charity and who arrived at ARA’s door one day looking for a dog to welcome into their lives.
Sarah writes that they were “totally in awe” of what they found: “a dog rescue Eutopia… We had to do something…” And so developed “For the love of…” produced in English and in Portuguese – the kind of book you can pick up at any point and find something utterly wonderful and uplifting: a message, a funny drawing, a tender story. They’re not all ‘happy stories’ because animal rescue can be fraught with tragedy, but they serve to inspire and show how good will always triumph, if you just make the effort. As the schoolchildren’s project says in its title: “Tod@s Podemos Ajudar” (We can all help).
So, where to find this book, which has a price tag of €10? That’s the easy part: “For the Love of…” can be purchased from ARA’s Wooff charity shop in Almancil (Rua Cristóvão Pires Norte A, 8135-117, opening times 10am-3pm, tel +351917558121), via message to Facebook page ‘Animal Rescue Algarve – ARA’ or from Cabanita itself, which has to arrange visits by appointment due to Covid regulations (tel: 910 476 880 or 910 476 885).
Cabanita is where all ARA’s ‘residents’ (cats, dogs, puppies and quite a lot of tiny kittens) live, and they all appear to thoroughly enjoy visitors bearing treats.