For decades, elephants in Thailand have been forced to work exhausting hours in the logging, trekking and tourism industries. Use of bull hooks and chains, and lack of basic shade or cover from the elements, have all added to the appalling treatment of these gentle creatures.
A couple of months back, I had the pleasure of visiting a small, yet beautiful haven for rescued elephants while on holiday in Koh Samui.
Samui Elephant Sanctuary was established in January early 2018 as the first elephant sanctuary on the island of Koh Samui. The sanctuary offers eight hectares of lush green land for a small group of rescued female elephants. (Elephant bulls require a lot more space, so the decision was made to only keep females here.)
Samui Elephant Sanctuary’s concept of elephant care and welfare is inspired and supported by Lek Chailert, world renowned elephant conservationist, founder of the world-famous Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.
Watch this short video of Samui Elephant Sanctuary Founder, Wittaya Sala-Ngam, as he explains why he established the first ethical elephant home on Koh Samui.
Although my experience at Samui Elephant Sanctuary was tinged with sadness as we learnt about the lives of pain and maltreatment these beautiful animals had endured before their arrival there, it was truly heart-warming to see the way the staff team and volunteers care and nurture them. They shared their passion with us as the elephants roamed around the park in their own time, of their own free will; swimming in the purpose-built pool or bathing in the mud pond when they wanted to.
Led by park guides, Ja and But, we met each of the elephants, all between the ages of 46 and 61, who had only started to experience the peace and joy of sanctuary life in their most recent years. We were able to feed and walk with all five of them; Khum Phean, Kaew Ta, Mae Kham Kaew, Kham San and Cartoon, who was the first elephant rescued here and started this sanctuary. A few really loved a little pat.
While the Thai Government prohibited logging in 1989, the increase in tourism and holiday makers looking for an elephant experience over the last thirty years has not really reduced the level of abuse Thai elephants are subjected to.
More education and information for travellers and tourists in recent years is leading to a better understanding of truly ethical elephant parks and those that are not. The decisions we make can directly influence the demand for captive elephants and their treatment as commodoties.
Unfortunately, I have to admit that a number of years ago I rode on an elephant’s back and bathed with them, at what I mistakenly thought was an elephant sanctuary. However, armed with better information and a stronger understanding, I can now make more ethical travel decisions… which is what led me to Samui Elephant Sanctuary.
Personally, I’m disappointed that I had been misled in the past about appropriate elephant-human interaction and that I had not questioned things further. However, as Maya Angelou said, ‘When we know better, we do better‘, and I definitely know better now.
Despite the work happening in today there are still an estimated 4,000 elephants living in terrible situations across Thailand. Saving and providing sanctuary for troubled Thai elephants isn’t cheap work. It can cost up to 1-2 million Thai baht (THB) to rescue an elephant. And these incredible creatures eat 30,000-40,000 THB worth of food every day, including pineapple leaves, bananas and cucumbers.
So today, on Thank You Thursday, I give an elephant-sized shout out to Lek Chailert for paving the way in elephant conservation, Wittaya Sala-Ngam for his passion for founding this beautiful place and all the team and volunteers at Samui Elephant Sanctuary for their love of the creatures in their care.
For many organisations, this is the time of year to start preparing a direct mail Christmas Appeal.
Direct mail is a fantastic tool used to connect with new donors, engage loyal donors and generate income for your cause. So it’s important that you do all you can to get it right.
Fish has put together a little checklist of the nine most important questions you should ask of your appeal.
The Nine Most Important Questions to Ask of Your Appeal
Is your material donor focused? Use less ‘we, our, us’ and more ‘you, your, you’re’
Be sure to speak to the donor needs, not those of your organisation.
What response do you want?
Be sure you know your audience. Visualise them and your desired response from them. With DM you want audience to open, read and donate.
Will your donors be able to follow and comprehend you?
Organise your material. Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and tell them again. First and last times are most critical. Transitions are the readers’ road map.
Do you tell a story?
You need to draw the reader in. Create a picture in their mind about what is happening. Be specific. And be relatable.
Who is the letter from?
The signatory should be the most influential person in the organisation who is willing to put their name to the letter. This needs to be the same person every time so they can build a relationship with your donor base. (If you want a different view point, have a story within their letter)
Does the letter speak head to heart?
Balance emotions with facts, but be sure to make facts relevant so people understand. Balance ‘benefits’ and ‘features’. Personalise as much as possible even if with ‘you’.
Do you use appropriate language and tone?
Use correct basic grammar, but remember it must be conversational as more will be read and remembered. Use everyday language not jargon. It’s a conversation on a piece of paper.
Have you used some persuasive writing techniques?
You want bite sized chunks – short words, sentences and paragraphs. Repetition. Alliteration. These need to be deliberate aspects to your material.
Have you made the ask?
Ideally you will have three direct asks. One in the first 50% of the letter, one just before signature and one in the P.S.
Last week The Fish Chick visited the beautiful central coast of NSW to deliver some educational opportunities for non-profits in the region. This was in partnership with Fortunity, a local accounting, investment and wealth management business.
Bianca shared insights about building better relationships with donors with a group of charities at a breakfast session at the University of Newcastle’s Ourimbah campus. She also delivered a more in-depth half day workshop about fundraising success for small charities as part of our offering of the Small Non-Profits Alliance.
Many of us have heard of ‘the man cave’, a place where men hideout from family pressures – a place where they can really try to be themselves, a place to tinker with their bikes, cars and/or hobbies. But did you know there is a real man cave helping young men with their emotions and mental health?
As World Mental Health Day is acknowledged on 10th October we’re taking this opportunity to highlight this growing organisation, The Man Cave.
International Literacy Day is celebrated on 8th September to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies, so this month we’ll make mention of a little organisation doing that across neighbourhoods in Australia called Street Library.
Street Library was founded by Nic Lowe whose vision came about from wanting to have an Australian-based free library movement to encourage literacy and community progress. Based on Little Free Libraries in America, Nic saw what they were doing and thought what a great idea to expand in Australia, and so a group of people got together to make it happen. Nic built and installed the first Street Library outside his home in Newtown.
Street Libraries are wonderful little homes for books that are accessible from the street and an invitation for sharing the joys of reading with people from all walks of life. One can simply reach into these little ‘homes’ and select what interests them. When done, they are returned or can be passed on to a friend knowing the ‘checking in’ or out of the book is not needed.
By participating in the Street Library movement, people – known as street librarians – can help to encourage reading, sharing and that a sense of community. The average little home for these books holds between 20 – 40 readers, plenty of room for your most enjoyed books to fit in.
Officially beginning in Sydney, New South Wales in November 2015 the idea has swiftly expanded. Street Library has three main objectives:
1. Encourage Literacy – “The more you read, the more you will know.”
2. To motivate people and bring neighbourhoods all over Australia closer together. By taking a book and leaving another one in its place, a cycle of generosity is shared.
3. To have registered by December 2021 – 5,000 Street Libraries.
Street Library aims to be self-sufficient by selling libraries to those who do not want to build their own and also host workshops for those who want to learn to build.
Street Libraries are a symbol of trust, hope and a passageway to literary happiness. Their motto is:
“Take a Book, Give a Book, Share a Book.”
So, this Thank You Thursday, we’re thanking Nic and the team behind Street Library, as well as all the ‘street librarians’ out there that host and helped establish a home for books in their local community.
See you in the pond,
The Fish Chick.
* Photo courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald: The first street library outside founder, Nic Lowe’s home.
Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.