BUILDING RESILIENCE | Indraloka Animal Sanctuary

BUILDING RESILIENCE

Empowering Communities; Fostering Strength

THE CHALLENGES WE FACE, ESPECIALLY OUR CHILDREN, ARE EVIDENT IN STAGGERING STATISTICS:

YOUTH:

• 42% of kids reported feelings of depression in 2022
• 20% of those contemplated suicide while 10% actually made an attempt
• 60% of children who experience mental health difficulties have no access to care.¹

HOMELESSNESS:

• 1 in 10 youths ages 13-25 experience homelessness by the time they are 25.
• 29% of homeless youth report substance abuse problems
• 7% report physical harm while homeless
• 62% of LGBTQIA report physical harm while homeless²

PTSD IN VETERANS AND FIRST RESPONDERS:

• Eighteen to 22 American veterans commit suicide daily and young veterans aged 18–44 are most at risk
• According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), roughly 1 in 3 first responders develop PTSD³

ANIMALS:

• 56 billion animals are killed for food each year
• 6.5 million animals are abandoned or enter shelters each year, only half of which are adopted out. Many return to a shelter.
• 99% of all farmed animals live on factory farms.
• Nearly 1 million animals are abused or killed in episodes of domestic violence4

THERE IS AN UNDENIABLE LINK BETWEEN ANIMAL ABUSE AND OTHER VIOLENT CRIMES:

• 70% of all animal abusers have committed at least one other criminal offense
• 40% have committed violent crimes against humans.5

How can we hope to solve a problem so big?

How can we even begin to make a dent in numbers like these?

The Building Resilience Campaign aims to expand Indraloka so that the number of lives we can impact is increased not by hundreds, but by thousands.

We’ll do this by:

Expanding animal care capacity, ensuring that when one is in need, we are here to help.

Growing the number of programs we can offer so that everyone, at any level of emotional need, can feel safe, welcomed, and loved.

Creating a scalable system that can be shared with sanctuaries everywhere, growing their capacity to not only help farm animals in need, but hurting humans too.

These three goals will focus on key areas of our existing structure:


– Expanding the capacity of the NEPA Rescue Veterinary Clinic,

– Increasing our Hopeful Heroes programs and trauma healing support, and

– Increased rescue capacity.

Our vision, at the end of this campaign is that:

We can ease the burden (both financial and with regards to capacity) of other rescues and shelters, so that whenever any of us gets a call of an animal in need, there is always a place to go.

Every visitor leaves with greater resilience and the skills to handle whatever life throws at them so that they can respond to challenges with kindness, compassion, and joy.

Rescued farm animals everywhere can find their voices amplified, share their stories and inspire change in the hearts of every human.

We have the resources to provide the very best life for the animals you have helped us rescue. That their lives will be as full and joyful as possible for however long they are with us.

We will be able to measure and articulate the impact that Indraloka, the animals we’ve rescued and the humans who visit have on the world around them.

A group of kids gently touching a black pig

I can’t remember if you still want this on this page or moved to a different page and linked.

Worthless.
Useless.
Not good enough.
Abandoned.

She heard the words echoing in her mind– louder than anything that was happening around her. Struggling mightily, she pushed back the image of her drunken father towering over her. The pain was so great, she was brought to her knees. Then, she felt a soft warm touch on her hand. It was enough to bring her back into the present moment. Sweet, shining black eyes looked up at her. “I know,” they seemed to say. “I’ve been there. But you and I are both ok now. We made it here, to a safe place.” Ashley took in a deep breath and silently thanked the hurt little pig at her side. We are safe now, she repeated silently, we are safe.

Every animal is safe.
Every person is loved.
This is the world you’re building.

In 2005 when Dr. Indra Lahiri founded Indraloka Animal Sanctuary, it was not her plan to create a haven of healing for all beings. She just wanted to rescue the most vulnerable–animals raised for food, clothing and entertainment. But what started as a farm animal rescue quickly became a beacon of light and love for all living beings–a place to heal, and to find rest, laughter and love–no matter what species.

Side headshot of a brown and white goat resting among grass and herbs

Today, Indraloka is home to more than 200 animals of 15 species, welcoming more than 4,000 visitors (mostly children) each year–all of whom have found a place of peace and space to heal from wounds many didn’t even know they had.
But despite these many thousands of lives healed, there are millions more who are still in the dark. Millions who suffer in silence, plagued by anxiety, depression and the ghosts of their past. Not to mention the countless animals who are never rescued but instead find their lives cut horribly short and full of unspeakable pain. Over the next 2 years, Indraloka is embarking on a project to open our gates wide and preparing to welcome not only hundreds more farmed animals in need of rescue, but tens of thousands more humans, who, even if they don’t realize it, need a safe haven as well. But we can not succeed without you. You are where the ripple of hope begins. Join us on this journey where the broken are healed, the lonely find friendship and where pain and suffering become nothing more than a whisper, drowned out by shouts of joy and laughter.

A Beacon in the Distance:

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

Ashley was a beautiful little girl, taking delight in helping others, and bubbling over with joy when the people that she loved were happy. But that same delightful caring and sensitivity also meant that…

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Girl petting a black and white cow over a fence on a pasture. More people, cows and forest in the background

A Healing Light:

How Ashley Met Mazzie

In an unexpected moment, Ashley found herself face to face with a pig. It wasn’t something she expected–to connect with an animal of another species. But as she learned,…

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Kid in a stroller and other kids petting a sheep

A Healing Light:
How Ashley Met Mazzie

In an unexpected moment, Ashley found herself face to face with a pig. It wasn’t something she expected–to connect with an animal of another species. But as she learned, as she connected, she saw pieces of herself in this pig. He was broken, abused, abandoned–just like her. And yet, here he was, surviving–thriving even–all under the loving care of those who he could have just as easily mistrusted.
It was there–in the presence of this pig, that Ashley began to see that distant light, shining in a way, just for her. That’s when she made the difficult decision to let her feelings back in. It was a long journey, and despite having beaten back the monster that was her drug addiction, the deep, dark pain in Ashley’s soul remained. She was drawn to a place where once tortured souls had found peace. There, at Indraloka, she met Mazzie whose full name, Mazor nur Tamid, was Hebrew for healing balm of light.
Mazzie was a tiny black pig with shining black eyes. His back had been crushed years before, and the hoarder who was keeping him either didn’t know or didn’t care. Mazzie never got any sort of medical care or even pain relief until years later, when a judge finally ruled that Mazzie could be removed from that place of cruelty.

Several white rescue chickens and a girl petting them

Mazzie arrived at Indraloka filled with terror and accustomed to the soul-crushing pain of his untreated spinal damage. He couldn’t use his back legs at all. Not long after he arrived, he realized that the humans here only had gentle touches and soft words for him. He was given beautiful, colorful meals of fresh vegetables and fruit cut into bite-sized pieces, and even fitted for a custom-built wheelchair. Mazzie didn’t like his wheelchair, though by now he had really started to like his new human family.

A girl hugging a pig

Within months, Mazzie was teaching himself to walk again, and finding joy in all kinds of everyday moments. He became best friends with another little pig named Chandra and they took to spending their days wandering the pasture, wallowing in the mud, and snuggling together for long naps.
In Mazzie, Ashley saw herself. Someone who, despite being good and trying hard. Following the rules and doing everything possible to take care of loved ones, was ignored and abused until all light was nearly snuffed out. But it wasn’t snuffed completely. And Mazzie wasn’t about to let the darkness of his past join him in his bright and shiny new sanctuary life. Ashley watched Mazzie as he awakened to embrace every day, seeking all the love and the joy and the watermelon he could find while spreading laughter and hope with every smile with which he gifted Ashley and so many others.
She felt a spark in her own heart, as hope rose and love took wing. Ashley knew she was no longer a hurt little girl. Just as Mazzie refused to stay broken, Ashley refused. She dug deep inside and found the strength that Mazzie and all of his friends at the sanctuary always knew was there. She found herself a great therapist, and learned healthy habits like hiking and yoga and sitting in quiet meditation, and most of all, Ashley learned to feel her feelings– all of them! As she allowed pain in, she found she was met with equal measures of joy. And through it all, she kept coming back to the sanctuary, soaking in the healing love of the animals in the quiet green spaciousness.

One black and one black and white kitten in grass

A Unique Approach to AAT and Nature Therapy–

What We Can Learn from Ashley and Mazzie

Nature Therapy and Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) are not new concepts. Numerous studies link wellbeing with spending time in nature. Simple activities, such as walking in rural environments, improve mental outlook. Three of the top six happiest countries in the world—Finland, Denmark, and Sweden—prioritize getting their students out into nature. The average child in the U.S. (which didn’t make the list) spends four to seven minutes a day playing outside. They spend the bulk of their free time—in excess of seven hours daily—in front of a screen.6
Many studies highlight the benefits of interacting with animals, including farmed animals. Participants in a study conducted by Purdue University and the University of Pennsylvania showed a reduction in blood pressure, reduced muscle tension and more even breathing. While these studies largely focused on companion animals, we have seen even better benefits to humans interacting with the rescued farmed animals at Indraloka.7

Anecdotal evidence and early studies indicate that our programs are more effective than traditional AAT models because of greater benefits of AAT with rescued farm animals versus companion animals. Farm animals (prey animals) are strong therapeutic partners.

They help us understand emotions and calm our autonomic nervous systems. AAT normalizes trauma experiences, decreases isolation and anxiety, improves self-esteem and addresses grief and loss.

Perhaps the greatest benefit to AAT with farm animals is increased resilience.

Trauma survivors need to feel loved in order to heal, yet they have extreme difficulty trusting and being vulnerable to other humans.8 Bessel Van Der Kolk explains: “…[P]atients who have been physically or sexually violated face a dilemma; they desperately crave touch while simultaneously being terrified of body contact.” Animals don’t evoke the same terror, making it easier for trauma survivors to accept their love and touch.9

Whtie and brown goat reaching their head in the air with eyes closed
“Seeing these beloved animals safe and free of fear and suffering, living their lives surrounded by love and companionship, and showing us their individual personalities—like my soulmate Capn’ Marble the marvelously unsheepish sheep, Rupert who grew from a baby calf to a giant, pink Evie, dearest Eddie, Mira’leh, Sandy, and those who crossed the rainbow bridge, including Duncan and Mazzie—all fill our hearts. They have a name, they are/were someone special. They loved, their lives had meaning, they mattered to us as all animals should.
Indraloka means the world to me and I tell everyone about it. Knowing that we helped build barns, and a bird village, and supported the vet clinic, and started a pollinator native garden gives us a sense of being a part of the Indraloka family even from a distance.” —
— Ruth Tal-Singer

Prey animals have heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, and smells, thus are attuned to human emotions. Through their reactions and behaviors, farm animals provide clients and therapists with nuanced information about their emotional state.

So attuned are these animals that they can hear our heartbeats and sense the hormones we release. They are responding to how we actually feel rather than what we are able to express. Trauma survivors often cannot feel and identify emotions. Learning to do so is key to building resilience and overcoming trauma.
Farm animals spend most of their time outside, living calmly. Trauma survivors are constantly on alert. Research indicates that breathing exercises and time in nature calm the autonomic nervous system. With farm animals, we become calm, and can more easily respond, versus react, to triggers.10
Mazzie was a pig who’d been healed–in part with the help of his rescuers but also by his own determination. Mazzie made a decision–he was going to move past his pain, find support and learn to trust (and walk) again. And that’s just what he did. When his own pain and suffering was behind him, he was in a position to help Ashley experience what he had–friendship that transcended his past. No longer was he an injured, frightened pig. He was a determined, joyful, healed soul who’d learned to trust not only other pigs, but humans as well. That was just what Ashley needed to do herself. Medical care and therapy were critical to Ashley’s successful healing, but without Mazzie, she may not have been able to help Isolde.

blue and yellow sky over pastures with picnic tables, a wooden fence and a red barn

The Ripple Effect

One day, a new rooster arrived at the sanctuary, hurting and scared, and Ashley realized she was strong enough to offer the new rooster the same love and hope that Mazzie had offered her. That rooster, Isolde, soon came across another broken-hearted human and set out to support this human’s mission of healing with his own version of loving inspiration.

And so it goes, one life has the potential to impact countless others. What began with a single hurt pig has grown into lifelong friendships, based on mutual growth and healing, that continue to expand, rippling out, even after Mazzie left this world. Ashley continues to shine the light that he gave her, sharing it with others.
A ripple of light, overwhelms the darkness. It spreads from life to life, heart to heart, getting brighter with every smile, every touch, every act of kindness. It begins deep in the heart of someone broken, but brave. Brave enough to reach out and learn to trust again. Brave enough to let someone else–also broken–inside the heavy, dark curtain that covers your heart. The animals have learned to let you in to love them, heal them, hold them. But now it’s your turn–start with a sliver. Just a crack–but let the light in. When you do, you’ll see we need them more than they need us. But mostly, we need each other.

3 kids sitting on grass playing with and hugging white rescue chickens

What began as a mission to save the most abused, neglected and abandoned animals quickly shifted into a quest to soothe the hearts and minds of all who’ve suffered.

several cows chilling on green pastures with a red barn in the background

When someone is hurting, whether emotionally or physically, they exhibit behaviors reflective of their pain. They favor a sore leg, bandage a broken arm, build walls to protect a scarred heart–all to keep the hurting part safe from further harm. To the animal on high alert, these behaviors are easily seen, but so are the anxiety-driven heightened blood pressure or the fearful rapid beating of a heart. Their ability to understand us is unmatched often even beyond what we can understand of ourselves.

Of course, this is intuitive for children. Lonely school children, drawn to the fluffy wool of a sheep or the soft feathers of a chicken, find instant friends.

A sheep doesn’t care if your clothes are in style or you listen to the popular music. They’re concerned only for the amount of time you’re willing to spend cuddled up next to them or softly stroking them as they lay in your lap. Troubled teens, abandoned by the adults who should have loved them unconditionally, can relate to the story of calves, discarded because they were male and would never produce milk. Both were rejected for who they were–things for which they had no control.

In this shared experience, they find kinship.

A young woman saddled with anxiety and fear after being abused by someone who was supposed to love her can relax next to a mini pig once left out in the cold with no way to keep warm. Together, they can just be–one sitting quietly while the other napped.

Sharing & Expanding Our Vision

These stories are not unique. In 18 years, tens of thousands of children have visited the animals. Only recently have we begun to actively seek out and document these transformational relationships.

What we have found is nothing short of miraculous.

So much so that we want to share it with as many people as possible, recognizing that while not everyone has been abused, neglected or abandoned, everyone has experienced some form of trauma or hardship–one that could be helped with the unconditional friendship of a rescued farm animal.

two black pigs side by side eating grass, a wooden fence in the background
“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion, to embrace all living creatures, and the whole of nature and its beauty.”
— Albert Einstein

Evidence of Success and a Desperate Need

It has been through the rescue of abused and neglected farm animals that Indraloka has witnessed the organic growth of love and friendship between the animals and humans (especially children). The animals have befriended others of many species–not just humans and their own kind.
The American Journal of Public Health published a years-long study that followed hundreds of students from kindergarten through early adulthood. Researchers found that teaching kindness, cooperation, and empathy as part of school curricula is key to children’s ability to excel in the classroom. Developing these skills is also necessary for kids to avoid major problems in adulthood. The study goes on to suggest that failing to teach these skills could pose a threat to public health and safety.11
Child and adolescent mental health is a national emergency. Anxiety and depression have reached epidemic levels. Children face ever-increasing threats and dangers—school shootings, bullying via social media, isolation, poverty, food insecurity, lack of health care. Pandemic policies that kept them out of classrooms for an entire semester—or, in some cases, an entire year—lowered student success outcomes across the board, from young children to college-age adults. Remote classes also stunted children’s social-emotional development.
These human challenges have only increased over time and they are showing no signs of slowing down. Young people today are more anxious than ever and feeling frustrated and hopeless for their future–whether it’s economic fears or the looming threat of climate change–they often see no way through. While our programs will not solve their challenges, they can restore their emotional stability enough to begin walking down a hopeful path.

Two teenagers sitting next to and petting a pig on a meadow. A group of teenagers in the background petting another pig who is laying down  in the meadow

What it will take

The Building Resilience Campaign is seeking to raise $4.5 million in 3 years. Funds from your support will help with capital projects, operating expenses, professional development, and community outreach.

How Your Support Helps…

Alpacas and sheep all free outside, eating hay, three wooden pillars indicating the animals are under a barncover

For this section: If you have this as a real Table that would be better. The dots give issues when formatting and on smaller screens.

Closeup of a beige and white goat looking calm and a white baby goat next to the adult goat on a bed of straw

WILL YOU JOIN US ON THIS JOURNEY?

Your financial support will help us build more housing, and enable us to rescue, rehabilitate, and love more animals, create more opportunities for humans to visit and share in the unconditional love that each rescued life gives.

QR code for financial support for Building Resilience Program at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary

When you look into the eyes of our beloveds you can see and feel the difference you make. If you watch the cows tend to each other, comfort babies Bear and Beau, cry actual tears when one of their herd is in distress, you’ll know they feel love and affection as deeply as we do. If you spend a few minutes with Carmella, a strong-willed chicken who insists on living with the sheep, pigs, and alpacas, you will realize she takes her job as mother hen very seriously. If you spend a few hours at the sanctuary, watching the animals, you will understand on a soul level that these animals are not just worthy of saving, but essential to our own salvation. You will know, as we do, that every life we save brings us closer to creating a more compassionate world for all.
Your financial support will help us build more housing and enable us to rescue, rehabilitate, and love more animals, create more opportunities for humans to visit and share in the unconditional love that each rescued life gives, and ensure that Indraloka Animal Sanctuary continues to thrive for the next generation of animals and the people who love them. Will you join us on this journey?

Since we already have many photos on this page, I wouldn’t add more photos (last page of the pdf).

ENDNOTES

  1. “Data and Statistics on Children’s Mental Health.” CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html.
    Accessed 26 October 2023.
  2. 2023 LGBTQ+ Homelessness Report. HRC Foundation, August 2023, https://reports.hrc.org/2023-
    lgbtq-youth-report?ga=2.249906565.2020576356.1698349160-1248385293.1698349160&
    gac=1.16394820.1698349160.CjwKCAjwnOipBhBQEiwACyGLuhMSGrrQF4KKetQfqCg_I7k-G_xM_
    rnQzOxOJi0hTfxOmHFUdyDVYBoCDG8QAvD_BwE.
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the
    United States: Results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  4. “Animal cruelty facts and stats.” The Humane Society of the United States, https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/animal-cruelty-facts-and-stats. Accessed 29 August 2023.
  5. “The Link: Cruelty to Animals and Violence Towards People.” Animal Legal & Historical Center, https://www.
    animallaw.info/article/link-cruelty-animals-and-violence-towards-people. Accessed 26 October 2023.
  6. Helliwell, J. F., Layard, R., Sachs, J. D., Aknin, L. B., De Neve, J.-E., & Wang, S. (Eds.). (2023). World Happiness
    Report 2023 (11th ed.). Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
  7. Hathcock, Amanda. “Animals can assist in a variety of ways to help individuals, caregivers achieve clinical goals.”
    Healthy Boiler, no. 20, 2021, https://www.purdue.edu/hr/CHL/healthyboiler/news/newsletter/2021-3/animals.php.
  8. Animal-Assisted Intervention for trauma: a systematic literature review. (2015, August 7). NCBI. Retrieved June 9,
    2023, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4528099/
  9. Van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin
    Publishing Group.
  10. Functionally relevant responses to human facial expressions of emotion in the domestic horse (Equus caballus).
    Biology letters, 12(2), 20150907. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2015.0907
    Mims, D. (2019, February 23). Animal Assisted Therapy and Trauma Survivors. Acta Scientific. Retrieved June 9, 2023,
    from http://www.actascientific.com/ASNE/pdf/ASNE-02-0026.pdf
    Nakamura, K., Takimoto-Inose, A., & Hasegawa, T. (2018). Cross-modal perception of human emotion in domestic
    horses (Equus caballus). Scientific reports, 8(1), 8660. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-26892-6
  11. Fryburg, David A. “Kindness as a Stress Reduction-Health Promotion Intervention: A Review of the Psychobiology
    of Caring.” American journal of lifestyle medicine vol. 16,1 89-100. 29 Jan. 2021, doi:10.1177/1559827620988268
two wight horses on a pasture. One with the head bent down to eat grass
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