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World Animal Day - Evening of Kindness

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Edgar's Mission for Kindness
Last Friday night I had the pleasure of being invited to join the folks of Edgar's Mission for their World Animal day 'Evening of Kindness' to ponder the question ''Is caring for animals still a radical pursuit?"

Edgar's Mission is a farm animal sanctuary whose aim is to rescue, rehabilitate and possibly re-home farm animals who have been mistreated, abandoned or sentenced to death for whatever reason. They are located in Kilmore, on a 60-acre farm, home to over 250 of their rescued animals.

As a not for profit organisation they do rely on donations & volunteers (links are to their specific website pages). The Mission also offers a 'Best Buddy Program', available online or by post, the program is a one-year commitment to sponsoring an animal of your choice - providing them with food, vet costs and of course, some treats.

Pam Ahern signs copies of her book, A Gift of Kindness, filled with beautiful pictures and stories of the farm's animals that will warm your heart for every reason

Attendees began the night with delicious vegan canapés and a flowing cash bar. While singers Vic Meehan and Vegan Smythe performed live (and were very well received), guests were encouraged to browse the stalls and artwork for sale, including animal made art, printed bags and t-shirts.

In case you're wondering, the word he's saying is 'buck'.

We then heard from the panel.

MC for the night, ABC radio presenter Phil Kafcaloudes introduced himself as a vegetarian for 26 years turned vegan and loving it. As he spoke about his beloved rescue dogs - one of which is so in touch with his and his wife's emotions he ponders, 'who's really the superior animal"?

The first of the guest speakers was philanthropist Phil Wollen. At age 34 Phil was the VP of Citibank, and one of the top 40 headhunted executives. Fast forward six years and Phil Wollen is reversing his good fortune and giving it all away. The exceptional giver then gave some more when he took to the podium with a hard-hitting, inspirational speech about how visiting a slaughterhouse owned by a corporate client turned his blood cold and his stomach off eating meat.

Guests buy up the Mission's merchandise
He even brought some audience members to tears with some truly heartbreaking statistics; 100 million sharks each year are caught to have their fins hacked off, then thrown back into the ocean to die a slow, torturous death. Why? To make Shark Fin Soup. In the US alone, 10 billion sentient land animals are killed each year for human consumption. Scarily true; as was this quote he left us with - "10,000 species are wiped out every year because of 1 species. If something other than a human did this a biologist would call it a virus"

Cricketer Peter Siddle spoke second. A great supporter of Edgar's Mission, he told the audience of the challenges and, eventually, benefits of becoming a vegan. For the most part, what caused him to make the drastic lifestyle change was his unrelenting vegan partner Anna. She told him so much about the foul (no pun intended) practices of the meat & dairy industries that on May 27, 2012 Peter Siddle ate his last piece of meat. He reminds us that since the change his bowling average has dropped and he's scored his first century.

Moira Rayner
As a member of Lawyers for Animals, Moira Rayner helps advocate to change attitudes towards animals & their rights

Next up was Moira Rayner. Along with being the Victorian Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, Rayner is well known for her extensive work in human rights, anti-discrimination law and women's rights. She spoke mostly of her volunteer work as a lawyer with Lawyers For Animals and of the 'prosaic reality that animals already have rights (like we people do) - we just ignore them.

Last but not least was Edgar's Mission Founder/Director and World Animal Day Ambassador Pam Ahern.

Brought to tears herself when she mentioned one of the farm sanctuary's cases - a young sheep named Herbie. Found abandoned by the roadside freshly shorn and emaciated, Herbie was taken in by Edgar's Mission, given love, cuddles and every medical resource available. His spirit grew in leaps and bounds, but unfortunately, his health was not as strong.

Barely a week after he'd been rescued, Herbie had to be put to sleep.

"That Herbie was seen and spared from a more grisly fate we are grateful, he left this world having known love, warmth and the gentle touch of kindness". This is Edgar's Mission. As a whole; the not for profit organisation strives to create a humane world for all animals (the human ones too).

To put it simply; their mission is kindness. At the end of the day, if we could all lead happy & healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn't we?

I think we can all agree on that.
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*Gerii Caulfield was invited as a guest
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Why? Do you even need to ask?
When: Human animals as young as 12 are welcome to volunteer on weekends after filling out an application form. See link in article.
Where: The Atrium, Deakin Edge, Federation Square, CBD
Cost: Tickets for the evening were $20 or $15 for Concession
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