Tuesday 21 June 2016 | 0

The educational alternative in the city of yulin

June 21st: Each year the barbarity of the dog meat festival strikes at our conscience. One Voice supports the struggle of local campaigners so that attitudes will finally change.

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China, which accounts for 20% of the world's population, is a huge machine engulfing natural resources, animal-products and biotopes to satisfy its needs. Here primary needs prevail and the consideration such as giving a little humanity to dogs still appears secondary. It should be remembered that, under Mao, the central party banned the possession of a pet animal, because it was considered as a by-product of a decadent bourgeoisie culture. And in a country where the Mandarin word for an animal simply means "moving object," the domestic companion is far from being worthy of any protective legislation.

At the root of it all is evil

It is in this unfavourable context that ACTAsia, a Chinese association born ten years ago, works on many fronts to advance the animal cause. Since 2008 its investigations into Chinese Zoos and the dog meat trade has been supported by One Voice who is a partner of this association. An active financial support helps to educate Chinese fashion designers and consumers in anti-fur ethics, through which hundreds of Chinese veterinarians are being trained in animal welfare and to promote new practices.

With One Voice, ACTAsia has of course mobilized every year to express its anger, to protest officially, to attract the attention of the media about the organizational conditions of the Yulin festival. Some animals were saved from the massacre, alas they are soon replaced by others, and notable advances have been made by the local authorities. But this mentality is resilient to change, the declared hostility towards these humanitarian hindrances and the weight of the monetary interests at stake marked the limits of the eventual protest. Therefore, among the different possible paths in which to irrigate people's consciences, one is digging deeper, longer, and strategically.

Schooling in empathy and respect

The idea at the heart of the battle undertaken by One Voice and ACTAsia is that education, especially among the younger ones, will sow the seeds of compassion for animals, humans and the environment. As early as 2006, an ambitious educational program called Caring for Life was developed, with the conviction that in the long term learning how to care for an animal and protect the weak is the source for a more harmonious society.

In 2012 the pilot project Caring for Life was introduced with the blessing of the authorities into Chinese public schools. Developed by experts, it proposes ten or twelve teaching modules that are adapted into the framework of associations, community clubs and summer camps; it's informal teaching methods are participatory and playful, which delights the students.

This project has been propagated through the training of educators who have stimulated the program: Caring for Life is now followed in about 100 schools in the eight largest Chinese cities. In Dalian, with the approval of the school authorities, it reaches 20% of primary school pupils in 21 different schools.

An auspicious success

In three years, Caring for Life has trained more than 800 educators and sensitized 35,000 children aged between 5 and 8 years old to have respect for life, whatever it may be. The program is also deployed in the most rural areas of the country where the cause for animals and the very perception of the concept of "feelings" are crushed by very harsh economic and social conditions.

Everywhere, the learning delivered through Caring for Life has brought out notable benefits among children: a sense of valorisation, an improvement in classroom behaviour and social relationships, a reduction in aggression and stress. These are all key elements to prevent a behavioural drift in disadvantaged areas, and certainly the seeds have been sown for a different future, where the Yulin festival will no longer be tolerated by the collective conscience.

Supporting the action in the field

The fight is long-term; it spreads certainly through petitions and is relayed by the Chinese authorities. By supporting One Voice financially, you will also be able to equip, train and motivate a new educator to spread the message of humanity in future Chinese classrooms by the simple sum of 10 euros.

Photo caption: In Guizhou, Isobel Zhang, national director of ACTAsia, presents the Caring for Life program in schools. Hope is on the move ...

Hr blog

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