Chennai: Sadhana Rao, a resident of Kapaleeswarar Nagar, Neelankarai finds peace in being the voice of the voiceless. For, the Indian Institute of Animal Welfare (IIAW), the organisation that she runs, has been sheltering over 57 cows and calves, at its headquarters in Neelankarai.
The story behind the IIAW, that also has a facility in Thiruvallur (housing 800 animals), is one of compassion. About 45 years ago, a milkman had once told her, that he was planning on sending his cow to the slaughterhouse, as it had stopped producing milk.
This marked the beginning of her mission to save bovines in danger. At IIAW, each cow has a heart-wrenching rescue story. While one was scalded after a tea shop owner threw boiling water on it for trespassing, another was rescued from drowning at Elliot’s beach. While some were brought here cancer-stricken, others were saved from the hands of butchers.
The destitute animals are continued to be taken care of here, purely with the help of donations. Most of the times, charitable and like-minded people ‘buy’ the cows from butchers and adopt them, it is learnt.
According to Sadhana, “Human beings communicate to each other whenever they feel sick. Similarly, animals have a language of their own, but unless we live with them, we cannot interpret the same. For this, we need to devote a few hours every week. At the same time, old and abandoned creatures need special type of treatment.”
So what challenges has she faced in her journey so far? “Sellers and consumers of meat give me a tough time. They question me as to why I am converting others. My intention is not to change anyone. I feel that we eat only herbivores, like cattle and goats, instead of carnivorous animals. Why is that? Because they are strong by taking a vegetarian diet with lots of greens. Even we can consume the same and be healthy, rather than taking the lives of other beings,” she concludes.