Blog Header Pic

Spring Project Update

The past few months we’ve been busy with some great fundraisers in Toronto and wanted to thank everyone who’s supported our little project!  Meanwhile, our team members in Varanasi have also been busy – here’s an update of everything they’ve been up to these past few months.

First Aid

In the past three months, over 420 animals were provided with first aid treatments by our staff and volunteers, including dogs, cows, bulls and calves.  These animals were treated for wounds, maggots, injuries, skin issues, and infections.

One of the more serious cases treated is Bhairo, a calf who had multiple fractures in his hooves.  A volunteer named Sadhna informed our staff members Anoop about this injured calf, and our staff members and a few other volunteers admitted the calf immediately to Ghoda hospital where surgery was done.  He was kept in the hospital for two days post-surgery.  Staff member Swati brought the calf to her house and took on his care.  Bhairo is now back on his feet and he can be seen playfully moving around.

      

Caring for Animals

In addition to first aid, our team of staff and volunteers took part in a lot of activities to care for animals in their community, including rabies vaccinations, and bringing fresh veggies to the deer in Sarnath.  Also, a wonderful team of yogis from Germany donated large bags of dog food during their visit to Varanasi.  Our team gathered the volunteers and other community members who are known to care for dogs in their neighbourhood, and distributed the food to ten different neighbourhoods.

On a sad note, our team found a mama dog who had died after giving birth.  The puppies were rescued and were cared for by our team.  Fortunately all the puppies are healthy and four of them have already been adopted out to good families!

 

Building Capacity

More and more locals are joining the movement to care for dogs in their neighbourhoods – it’s so great to see!  Our staff met with them to discuss their interests and they’ve joined our team in first aid rounds to learn how to care for animals.  The staff conducts first aid rounds in different parts of the city with the end goal of having a team of animal advocates who are represented by all neighbourhoods in the city.  The locations of volunteers were mapped and circulated so that everyone knows who’s around to help when they find an animal who requires care.

Our good friend Amy Nagatani, an Australian veterinarian who’s now living in Canada, provided further hands-on training to our team during her visit to Varanasi.  Also, a first aid workshop was conducted in April to develop the skills of the volunteers.  Dr Patel, an experienced vet conducted the sessions along with Swati, and trained volunteers were provided with first aid kits to use on the animals in their neighbourhood.  Volunteers are taught to call the local animal shelters when they find animals that require veterinary care.

 

Spay/Neuter in Varanasi 

…and speaking of the local animal shelters, we’re so thrilled that Varanasi for Animals is conducting hundreds of spay/neuter surgeries each month.  Also, they have recently expanded their shelter space to accommodate a sanctuary for animals who require long-term care, which is a huge win for animals who are unable to thrive on the streets.

 

Help us help the animals!

  • For individuals in Varanasi who want to help street dogs, please contact our Helpline at 9452781980.
  • For individuals who can contribute financially to the project costs, please click here to make a donation – every little bit helps! We thank everyone in advance for their support!

Thank you to our partner, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations!

2016 … progress so far!

April_calf

What a great first half of 2016 for Dogs of the Ganges and our project to help animals in Varanasi, India!  Last year, our pilot year, we partnered with the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) to deliver a grassroots, community-driven project to raise the level of compassion for animals in Varanasi.  During our founders’ visit last December, we saw people alerting our team to injured dogs, locals providing first aid treatment, and a small but mighty team of volunteers who were keen to take on leadership roles in neighbourhoods across Varanasi.

Building on the achievements of the first year in our two pilot neighbourhoods, we set forth with FIAPO to expand our project to more areas of Varanasi, thereby helping even more animals through a city-wide grassroots movement!  Our activities revolve around engaging leadership volunteers to oversee the welfare of animals in their neighbourhood, engaging locals to alert them of animals in need of care, providing on-site first aid to prevent issues from worsening, and bringing veterinary care to the animals when needed. As a result of this expansion, we increased our budget so that we could hire additional staff to focus on project expansion, build the capacity of these new volunteers through training, and supply first aid supplies to locals who’ve been trained through our project.

In Toronto we’ve spent the first half of 2016 focused on raising funds to achieve our expansion goals and are excited to share some of the amazing achievements that were made in the first seven months of our second year!

First Aid

Our project’s activities now cover approximately 70% of Varanasi!  This means we now have 50 volunteers and 20 community caretakers keeping an eye on the dogs and other animals who live almost three-quarters of the city.

So far this year, volunteers and community caretakers provided care to over 575 animals, including dogs, bulls, cows, birds, snakes and monkeys. Common issues included skin infections, maggots, overheating, and injuries from traffic accidents, dog bites and abuse. Animals were treated through our team-based first aid drives and through individual first aid efforts made by trained volunteers.

April_babybird   April_pup   June_pup

June_monkey   June_monkey2   March_dog

Building the Capacity of Locals to Turn Compassion to Action

Our project team created a volunteer development manual, which includes details about the project purpose and vision, volunteer roles and responsibilities, and a treatment guide.

First aid training workshops were held, teaching interested locals on how to identify basic animal welfare issues, what to do when they see an animal in need of help, and basic first aid techniques.  First aid kits were provided to volunteers who attended training and took part in first aid drives led by staff and leadership volunteers.

A workshop was conducted to provide information on basic animal protection laws, and how to file a First Information Report (police report) when they see an animal being abused.

To show appreciation to locals who’ve participated in our project activities and to encourage continued care and concern for animals, we invited volunteers, organizations and community caregivers to a celebration and presented them with certificates of excellence, given out by the Municipal Commissioner and the Health Officer of Varanasi Municipal Corporation.

April_recognition   April_recognition1

Working with Government on Animal Welfare

The auspicious Hindu festival of Navratri (in April) brings a lot of snake charmers to the city, with varied species of snakes in their repertoire.  Our volunteers helped in the rescue and release of snakes into the forest with the aid of the Forest Department and filed a police report against the culprits.

April_snake

With the start of summer, the season for bird trafficking begins but due to the timely intervention of locals, they busted one bird trafficking ring and rescued numerous parrots and sparrows from the clutches of the traffickers looking to sell them.

April_birdmarket

Volunteers met with the Forest Department to complain about the illegal animal market situated at Bahelia Tola and a raid was performed.

In conjunction with the Municipal Corporation, our volunteers conducted a rabies vaccination drive in June.  130 dogs were vaccinated in 9 areas, and we look forward to working with the Municipal Corporation to expand vaccination coverage!

June_vaccinations   June_vaccinations2

June_vaccinations3   June_vaccinations4

Meetings were held with the Municipal Commissioner to seek more support from the Municipal Corporation to improve the welfare of animals in the city.  Along with the work of the other animal welfare organizations in Varanasi, achievements included:

  • An agreement to build kennels at the animal hospital run by the Municipal Corporation; our partner FIAPO provided them with best-practices in kennel design
  • A commitment to introduce five new ambulance services in each ward, and the installation of a new X-Ray machine in the local animal hospital run by the Nagar Nigam
  • Issuance of contracts for a spay/neuter program (called Animal Birth Control, or “ABC” in India) to two local animal shelters, Varanasi for Animals and Aashray for Sick and Helpless Animals.  ABC drives have now begun on a much larger scale than before, which will increase the success of controlling the population of street dogs who suffer throughout the city.  In June an ABC Monitoring Committee was created, which our staff member Swati a member of.
  • The installation of water tubs throughout the city, ensuring that there would adequate water within the reach of animals throughout the summer heat.

April_water3   April_water

Collaboration with other NGOs

One of the greatest strengths of our partner FIAPO is its ability to encourage collaboration between existing animal welfare organizations and build the capacity of member organization by leveraging everyone’s best practices.  Efforts have been made to reach out to other NGOs in the city to ensure that the city develops well-coordinated support for animals in distress.

A shelter protocol document was developed for a local animal shelter and assistance will be provided to them to implement these best practices.

When our volunteers saw the poor condition of large animals at the local Goshala (cow sanctuary), they stepped in to provide assistance to the caretakers of the facility.  Training was given to the caretakers of the Goshala and regular follow-up and first aid is being conducted.

June_cow   March_cow

Working with Media

Volunteers organized a press conference to spread awareness regarding the environment and animal welfare issues in the city.

After a wave of exaggerated and hateful articles in print media about stray dogs, wrongfully branding them as a lethal menace, volunteers met with the editor and started a dialogue about the problems faced by street dogs and clarified any misconceptions about their behaviour.  The newspaper agreed to stop publishing such polarizing pieces and to publish accurate information about animals provided by our volunteers.

Help us help the animals!

  • For individuals in Varanasi who want to help street dogs, please contact our Helpline at 9452781980.
  • For individuals who can contribute financially to the project costs, please click here to make a donation – every little bit helps! We thank everyone in advance for their support!

Thank you to our partner, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations!

Summer update!

We apologize in advance…it’s been awhile since we posted our project updates as we’ve been so busy with organizing fundraising events in Toronto.  Read more about the events we’ve recently done on our events page HERE!  They’ve been really fun, and we’re so grateful for the supporters (both individuals and businesses) who support our cause.  All the funds raised at these events go towards running our project in India, including first aid kits, medication, vet costs, outreach materials, and salary for our staff members who do the hands-on education, outreach and first-aid work in Varanasi.

I promise that we’ll start resuming our project update posts soon, because so many great achievements have been accomplished in Varanasi!  In the meantime, here’s an graphic we created to summarize our project goals for this second year of our project.  Enjoy!

DOGS infographic

Founders’ visit to Varanasi

Earlier this month, founders Derek and Vinyse visited Varanasi to meet with our local staff member Amit, to plan ahead with our partners FIAPO and to see the progress that the project has made this first year.

We spent our time meeting the amazing volunteers and other locals who have been caring for the street dogs and other wonderful animals.  Through our project, these locals have received training, first aid supplies, support, and guidance.  Helping animals can feel like a lonely activity in India, so having a sense of community and camaraderie can prevent compassion fatigue and build the confidence of the animal lovers.  When you know that you’re not the only one who cares, what felt like a losing battle soon feels like an achievable goal!

Meeting

A highlight of our trip was accompanying Amit and the volunteers on first aid rounds.  Here are some of the photos and stories of the dogs we helped.

Remember Archie from this past February? He had a rectal prolapse as a pup and was nursed to health by our team. Look how big he is now! He immediately came running when the snack stand people called out his name, and he remembered Amit as the bearer of treats. We were so happy to see Archie, so sweet and full of energy:

Archie

This mama dog stays close to her pups at the snack stand where our sweet Archie hangs out:

Mama_snack stand

This sweet dog had a wound on her arm, which can easily become infected. When doing our rounds we saw her and Amit provided treatment. She was a trooper:

Wound on arm

This amazing mama dog had her babies in this red metal stand. One of her pups had his paw severely cut from the string of a kite. Amit and our volunteers have been monitoring the pup and continually providing treatment.  On the photo on the right, the pup gets some first aid from Amit and Derek:

Pups in shelter       Kite String

This kind gentleman was feeding this crew of dogs who (mostly) patiently waited their turn. One of them had skin disease which the team has been treating:

Man feeding dogs_mange

This sweetie certainly left her paw prints on our hearts this afternoon. The locals said that she was very sick, dehydrated, and hadn’t been eating. The team did their best to help, and while preparing to bring her to the vet she passed away. It was so heartbreaking to see her suffering, but I hope that she felt the love we had for her in her final moments:

 

Sweet dog

This dog had a large maggot wound on the left side of his neck. The people who work on the river alerted us and Amit provided treatment (and will return to provide follow up medication):

Maggot

Amit giving medication to this sweet pup that a tourist had been watching over:

Deworming

This bull’s hoof had been injured and was seriously infected. Swati, an amazing volunteer (aka bull whisperer) comforted him while we treated his hoof. Swati has a natural gift with animals – recently she helped an ox whose tongue had been cut off. She nursed him back to health and he’s now able to eat!

Bull Whispers

We spent a day with a team of volunteers treating the dogs with skin issues such as mange.  The locals were really helpful in finding the dogs in their neighbourhood and getting them to come to us:

Mange1 Mange2 Mange3

From the findings of our trip, we really believe that our strategy of inspiring compassion in locals and building their capacity to help the animals in their neighbourhood has worked well.  This past year has been a pilot project for us, where we focused on one neighbourhood in the city, and in 2016 we’re excited to expand the project to cover 50% of the city.  To do this, we need your help!

Your contributions will directly fund the cost of first aid kits and medication, veterinary care, outreach materials, and hiring an additional staff member in India.   Click here to make your contribution today.  All contributions, regardless of size, can make a big difference in the lives of the 150,000 street dogs in Varanasi!

Thank you for sharing our passion for helping animals in such great need.  We hope you are as excited as we are about what we can achieve this coming year!

Cheers,

Vinyse & Derek, Co-Founders of Dogs of the Ganges Society

 

Locals are the key to building a movement of compassion

First Aid and Outreach:  Last month saw an increase in the number of pups found on the road.  A considerable amount of first aid treatments were performed by our team in Varanasi this month, including some very intensive cases.  As always, locals helped a lot during these treatments and we’re hopeful that some of them will become more involved with our first aid work.

FirstAidCollage

One of the cases included a pup who was crushed by a bike and was suffering from gastroenteritis. A local called our team in Varanasi and they provided treatment to the pup.  The team then presented what our organisation does to the locals who took interest in taking care of animals on street.

PupAccidentGastroenteritis

This cute pup was stuck behind a locked grill gate, which was reported by Shubhankar and Vitthal. We were able to reach the spot and rescue the pup by scaling the gate.

PupStuckBehindGate

Building Capacity:  A first aid workshop was conducted on October 15 at one of the hostels of Banaras Hindu University. The students were very appreciative of the work, particularly as a result of the treatment of a bull that we were doing in front of the hostel. Gradually, some of them got quite friendly with us and helped in organizing volunteers and materials for the treatment. The hostel canteen staff also went out of their way to help with the treatment. They all wanted to learn more about first aid and so we followed up with a first aid workshop for them.  This was very well received and two first aid kits were placed with the students to take care of the stray animals they come across at the University.

FirstAidWorkshopAtBHU-hoste

Help us help the animals!

  • For individuals in Varanasi who want to help street dogs, please contact our Helpline at 9919783355.
  • For individuals who can contribute financially to the project costs, please click here to make a donation – every little bit helps! We thank everyone in advance for their support!

Thank you to our partners, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, Animal Aid Unlimited and Mayhew International.

 

 

 

 

 

Building capacity and building compassion

First Aid:  The team in Varanasi performed many first aid treatments this month, including cases that took extra effort and follow up.  Here are some highlights and some great improvements from pups we helped in the last few months!

PupBeforeAfter

FirstAidCow

FirstAidGeneral

University Bull – Students at Banaras Hindu University notified the team about a bull who had a serious maggot wound on his hoof and had difficulty standing. With intensive treatment, he has now started to walk and is improving by the day. The students are following up with the prescribed treatment and are now more aware about how to help animals on the street.

FirstAidBull

Tommy – Last month we highlighted the story of Tommy, an abandoned dog who was found suffering from maggots and tick fever. He was adopted by a loving family last month, and look how great he looks today!

Tommy

Building Capacity:  A workshop was organised on Assi Ghat on September 13th by our team of volunteers.  The purpose of the presentation was to increase everyone’s compassion for street dogs.  They showed basic first aid techniques, and discussed how regular citizens can help animals in distress.

Building Compassion:  On September 14th, our team in Varanasi made a presentation to 350 students of Sunbeam Senior Secondary School, Bhagwanpur. An interactive discussion was organised along with slides and photos.  This presentation inspired students to have compassion for animals and informed them about issues regarding animal cruelty.  They also discussed how to understand dog behaviour and how to use this understanding to prevent dog bites – something that is at the root of many children’s paranoia about dogs. If we can help children understand dogs and shed their fears about them, they are more likely to have compassion for them.  The students and school administrators were very engaged in the discussion and asked a lot of interesting questions.

SunbeamPresentation

Building Bridges:  Our team met Dr. Ansari, the government veterinarian in charge of animal control in Varanasi.  This is a part of our continuous engagement with the government authorities in order to eventually have them take greater responsibility for the street animals, including moving the cattle to Gaushalas (shelters for unwanted cows) and possibly also supporting a spay/neuter programme for dogs.

Help us help the animals!

  • For individuals in Varanasi who want to help street dogs, please contact our Helpline at 9919783355.
  • For individuals who can contribute financially to the project costs, please click here to make a donation – every little bit helps! We thank everyone in advance for their support!

Thank you to our partners, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, Animal Aid Unlimited and Mayhew International.

A busy month of first aid treatments

The month of August coincides with the sacred month of Shravan in the Hindu calendar, which brings with it a lot of Shiva devotees from all over the country into Varanasi in their orange attire and festive spirits. Overall, it increases the chaos in the city – if such a thing were possible!  Our team of staff and volunteers were very busy this month, as the monsoons brought with them many cases of maggots, ticks and fleas.

Skin-Issues

First Aid: Over a hundred first aid treatments were performed in August!  Here are some highlights:

Casper, Sheru and Choti – The month began with a well-coordinated effort by the group of volunteers that we have been cultivating – it saved the lives of 3 orphaned pups, who would have otherwise died beside their mother who had sadly passed away. A local contacted our team and they sprang into action. The pups were cared for in a foster home and they’ve now since been adopted!

Casper,-Sheru-and-Choti

Tommy – An abandoned dog named Tommy was suffering from maggots and tick fever. A team of volunteers provided him with a lot of care and treatment, and he was later adopted by a loving family!

Tommy

Lali – A paralyzed pup named Lali was found bleeding from a lacerated wound. She was picked up by members of our network and taken to a vet who successfully amputated the damaged limb. Now Lali can be seen walk around on her three remaining legs.

Lali

Shiro and Tuffy – Two pups were treated for gastroenteritis, which can be fatal if left untreated. They are on the road to recovery.

Gastroenteritis

Ravi Babu – Street dog Ravi Babu was treated for a deep maggot wound.

Ravi-Babu

It’s so great to visibly see the work that our volunteers are doing, and even having tourists join in to help!

Building Capacity:  A first aid workshop was carried out by Pushparag, one of the members of the network, at Gowdolia near the ghats on August 25th.  Accompanied by rain, the group of local residents treated dogs suffering from skin infections. Tourists in the area also joined the treatment and were happy to see that there were people who cared about animals in Varanasi.  

Workshop

Help us help the animals!

  • For individuals in Varanasi who want to help street dogs, please contact our Helpline at 9919783355.
  • For individuals who can contribute financially to the project costs, please click here to make a donation – every little bit helps! We thank everyone in advance for their support!

Thank you to our partners, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, Animal Aid Unlimited and Mayhew International.

Relief from the Monsoons

Since our last project update the monsoons have significantly lowered temperatures in Varanasi – what a relief for humans and non-human animals alike!

First Aid:  Lots of animals were treated this month, and included: a whelping mother with a deep wound caused by a tumour on her right flank; a cow with a deep cut on her right hind leg that caused severe bleeding; and a road accident with a female dog who suffered a minor fracture in the femur.  These and many other animals were treated and have local caregivers keeping an eye on them.  In keeping with our strategy to achieve long term care for animals in Varanasi, all the treatments were done with participation of the locals.

FirstAid_3-Frames

Building Capacity:  The mobile app WhatsApp has been used by our volunteers to easily communicate with each other about first aid needs for street dogs and other animals.  The group has been very active and we’ve witnessed a lot of mutual assistance and coordination amongst group members.  In addition to this practical aspect, regular communication and encouragement within the group will continue to help local activists to feel empowered and inspired in a society that often criticizes those who care for street dogs.

Our volunteers continue to develop their leadership and first aid skills, with Vishal Singh, Parvathy and Pushparag taking ownership of first aid treatments in their own neighbourhoods.

Sweeties_3-Frames

Advocacy:  One of our volunteers, Vishal Singh, met with Dr. Ansari, the Chief Veterinary Officer regarding the rising cases of illegal and inhumane catching and displacement of dogs.  Displacing dogs to placate public sentiment is an illegal, yet prevalent practice in many cities in the country and Varanasi too appears to have taken the same recourse.  It is only through alert and empowered local activists that this problem has been solved elsewhere.  We are therefore ensuring that the animal activist community of Varanasi too is able to combat such illegal actions until a more sustainable spay/neuter program is put in place.

Building Momentum:  For International Justice Day on July 17th, a photograph campaign was launched across India by animal activist leaders in their respective areas, including Varanasi.  Here are some photos of people who want justice for animals!

Justice_3-Frames

Help us help the animals!

  • For individuals in Varanasi who want to help street dogs, please contact our Helpline at 9919783355.
  • For individuals who can contribute financially to the project costs, please click here to make a donation – every little bit helps! We thank everyone in advance for their support!

Thank you to our partners, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, Animal Aid Unlimited and Mayhew International.

Playful street puppies often result in injured street puppies

The month of June saw an unusually hot summer spell for the people and animals of Varanasi. With no signs of any rainfall till the end of the month, most activities came to a standstill and the city was hot and humid during the pre-monsoons.

Puppies_3frames

First aid:  This month saw a rise in the number of road accidents experienced by animals. Some of these cases were complex and required a lot of follow up. However, with the enthusiasm and expanding first aid skills of the volunteers in Varanasi, we successfully dealt with over 80 cases – the highest that have been handled so far. This included a bull, a pony, and many dogs.

PupBeforeAfter_2frames

Animals_3frame

Capacity building:  Our number of volunteers in Varanasi continues to grow, with animal feeders continuing to join the ranks. We’re so proud that some of our volunteers are feeling empowered to take on leadership roles, which is the ultimate goal of our program.

This month Parvathy and Ramesh, equipped with their own first aid kits, treated some animals and did outreach at Sadar Bazar. They are getting comfortable with working on their own now.  Pushparag would like to take on a greater leadership role so we did a treatment and outreach drive in his neighbourhood to hone his skills. Several pups infested with ticks were treated and outreach was carried out.

BuildingCapacity_2frames

Outreach:  Since there was a particularly large number of first aid treatments performed this month, outreach also increased. We continue to employ the strategy of combining outreach activities with first aid treatments as this has shown to be the most effective way to engage people.

Outreach_3frame

Help us help the animals!

  • For individuals in Varanasi who want to help street dogs, please contact our Helpline at 9919783355.
  • For individuals who can contribute financially to the project costs, please click here to make a donation – every little bit helps! We thank everyone in advance for their support!

Thank you to our partners, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, Animal Aid Unlimited and Mayhew International.

SmilingLady

 

Empowering locals to help more street dogs in Varanasi

With the hot summer season reaching its peak (45 degrees Celsius on some days!), our activities in Varanasi continue to grow at a fast pace. Shweta and Varda, staff members from our partner organization, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), visited Varanasi this month and that added further enthusiasm to the month’s activities!

Heat_2frame

First aid: Daily first aid and follow-up of existing cases continued through May. There were some unique cases that we faced this month, including two serious fracture cases in dogs that were successfully handled, and a young bull with a bone injury after being hit by a vehicle. The young fellow was given a prolonged course of treatment and is now back on his feet. On the sad side, we came across a pup that was showing symptoms of rabies. He was immediately taken to a vet and after a period of observation, he unfortunately had to be euthanized. His siblings and other dogs from his neighbourhood were given anti-rabies injections. The caretaker of these dogs was asked to keep an eye on the other dogs and to contact us immediately if they show similar symptoms or a changed behaviour pattern. Outreach was conducted in this neighbourhood to inform people on what to do in case of dog bites, and to advise them that they should not attempt to catch or kill any such dog but to report it to the veterinary and municipal authorities.

FirstAid_3frame

Capacity building: Another successful workshop on providing first aid to street animals was held on May 20th. The workshop attracted 15 locals who actively participated with a lot of questions and discussion on how they can further organize to reach out to an even larger number of animals in their vicinity. First aid kits were distributed to the participants and training was provided on how and when to use the contents of the kids. With this, we hope that the locals will feel equipped and empowered to provide a basic level of care to their neighbourhood street dogs without our staff member having to be physically present, thereby expanding our reach and building a sustainable model of care.

Over the last few months, our project has engaged a number of volunteers in the cantonment area of Varanasi, which is geographically removed from the ghats. These volunteers were so inspired by our work in between Assi and Harish Chandra Ghats that they wanted to replicate the work in the cantonment area to help the street dogs who live there. To achieve this, the volunteers held a meeting in the cantonment area where together we undertook planning for the cantonment first aid project. We also helped the cantonment volunteers collect baseline data on the dog population which will form the basis of the project in this area.

We are SO THRILLED that the project is expanding through the initiative of locals who saw the impact of our work to date, and that we are empowering locals to help the street dogs in their neighbourhood through training and outreach!

Cantonment_3frame

Building networks: A meeting was held with Mrs. Ramadevi, the Head of the Veterinary Faculty of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) to discuss possible future collaborations with the faculty and the Varanasi Municipal Corporation.

As part of our effort to boost the animal care infrastructure in Varanasi, our partner organization FIAPO has been working with a local animal shelter to upgrade and enhance the quality of animal care there. As a result of their guidance, the size of kennels at this shelter has been increased and they have also been fully tiled. An operation room is also under construction, new surgical material and an autoclave has been procured, and a skilled paravet has joined the shelter.

EndImage_2frame

Help us help the animals!

  • For individuals in Varanasi who want to help street dogs, please contact our Helpline at 9919783355.
  • For individuals who can contribute financially to the project costs, please click here to make a donation – every little bit helps! We thank everyone in advance for their support!

Thank you to our partners, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, Animal Aid Unlimited and Mayhew International.

JoinUs

 

 

Outreach efforts making an impact

 

Before we dive into our project update, we just wanted to say that our thoughts are with our human and animal friends in Nepal.

As the heat begins to pick up, so has the tempo of outreach and first aid treatments. This has been partly on account of increased visibility and awareness about the campaign as well as the fact that summers see an increase in parasite activity and resultant skin problems.

First aid and Outreach:  Over 45 first aid treatments were provided to the animals this month. While we mostly work with dogs, the list of species that the program treats diversified to monkeys as well! Cows also continued to be represented on the list of animals attended to.

On April 7th, a group outreach and first aid session was held between Dashwashmedh Ghat and Darbhanga Ghat.  The purpose of these group outings are to train our volunteers in first aid, enable them to get supervised practice, and help them feel encouraged and empowered to continue helping animals.  During this session our group of local volunteers worked together to treat dogs and pups with various skin problems, a dog with a bite wound on his back, and a monkey who had had been electrocuted (and was entrusted to the forest department).  The first aid activities were followed by outreach activities, in which our volunteers connected with locals along the Ghats to tell them about our program and to encourage compassion for animals.

April-7

We conducted another first aid and outreach activity on April 24th at the request of one of our local volunteers, Ravi Tripathi.  We treated many of the dogs who had skin problems and performed some community outreach in the area of Ahilya Bai Ghat.  The residents that we met were exposed to the unique spectacle of dogs, normally a subject of jeers and ridicule, being attended to with care and attention. In the process, Ravi Tripathi was trained and will be able to follow up with the dogs that we treated.

April-24

The next day, another local resident requested that we do the same in Gauri Ganj, and as such, the animals in this area were treated and outreach to the neighbours was performed.  It’s so great seeing locals take up the cause of helping street dogs in their own neighbourhood, and our program allows them to turn their compassion to action!

April-25

Education: On April 21st we facilitated a presentation to over 500 students of Army Public School in Varanasi Cantonment. This was an interactive session including the use of lots of photos.

Teachers and students showed enthusiasm and participated with lots of interesting questions about animal protection. Leaflets were distributed amongst the senior students and the Principal and teachers were given contact details for our animal first aid project. The school authorities appreciated our efforts and have displayed the posters on their notice boards so that students and other visitors are regularly exposed to the project.

Apr-21

Help us help the animals!

  • For individuals in Varanasi who want to help street dogs, please contact our Helpline at 9919783355.
  • For individuals who can contribute financially to the project costs, please click here to make a donation – every little bit helps!  We thank everyone in advance for their support!

Thank you to our partners, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, Animal Aid Unlimited and Mayhew International.

Interest in helping animals increasing in Varanasi

This past month was very busy and included first aid activities, outreach, education and networking with like-minded organizations. We received many requests for help and are excited about the growing enthusiasm for animal protection in Varanasi.

First aid: Over 20 first aid treatments were provided in March to street dogs in our area of focus. Most of them had the too-common issues of skin problems, wounds and other injuries.

First-aid_2-frames

Pup_3-frames

We had a very challenging situation with an abandoned bull calf that was run over by a speeding vehicle. The calf collapsed and seemed on the verge of death. Vishal, one of our dedicated volunteers reached the spot and called for help. There was a lot of unrest amongst the local residents who were ready to beat the driver up. However, several people (including our local volunteers) helped pacify the matter and prevented its escalation. The calf has been treated and is slowly recovering with the local residents feeding and acting as guardians to the calf.

Nandi_3-frames

Outreach:  The network of animal lovers in Varanasi continues to grow. This month nearly 10 additional people were added to the network. Some of these are dog feeders and we will attempt to graduate them to be community guardians of the animals and take the step beyond feeding. This month’s outreach activities were held on the banks and streets of Dashwashmedh ghat on March 15 and March 18 with shop owners and local caretakers.

Outreach_brochure

Education and capacity building:  An interactive learning workshop on care and first aid of street animals was organized on March 24 and was attended by 23 animal lovers. Presentations included various aspects of basic first aid and how to handle accidents, bleeding, fractures, wounds, burns, snake bites, and injured wildlife and birds. More severe scenarios were discussed including choking-suffocation, heat stroke, shock, poisoning, fits, and basic resuscitation. The workshop was conducted under the supervision of Dr. U B Singh, a senior veterinarian who has a lot of experience. The workshop participants responded enthusiastically and had many questions for Dr. Singh.

Workshop_3-frames

It’s so great to see that people are interested and eager to do more to help the animals in their community! This is in line with our strategy – we know we can’t solve the problem alone (and from afar, no less), but we can help build a movement of compassion from the ground up and, once people want to care for the animals, we can build their capacity to act on their compassion by equipping them with tools, knowledge and guidance.

Community building:  Our staff in Varanasi visited Sarnath to meet with some wonderful people who were conducting their second annual animal welfare camp there, which included ABC (animal birth control), education and first aid activities. Amit met with Eileen Weintraub from Help Animals India (USA), Dr. Jain of the Sarnath Village Development Society, and Dr. Akshay Prakash from Sarvodaya Sevabhavi Samstha (Bangalore). Sarnath is 13 kms north-east of Varanasi and is where Buddha gave his first teaching after attaining enlightenment.

As always, thank you to Mayhew International and FIAPO for working with us on this project!

Help us help the animals!

  • For individuals in Varanasi who want to help street dogs, please contact our Helpline at 9919783355.
  • For individuals who can contribute financially to the project costs, please click here to make a donation – every little bit helps! We thank everyone in advance for their support!

Answering the call for dogs in need of help!

Archie_curled up

A highlight for us this past month was a visit to Varanasi by Catherine Jansen, a great supporter and friend of Dogs of the Ganges.  Catherine had the opportunity to meet Amit and some of our local volunteers, and everyone came away from the meeting with excitement and actionable items to further the work that we’re doing on the ground.  She also got to see first-hand the work that Amit is doing around outreach and first aid, and helped bring more locals to our volunteer team.  We are always so grateful for Catherine’s support and wisdom, as she has visited India more than 20 times and has immense compassion for humans and dogs alike.

Capacity building and outreach: A skin treatment workshop was held with volunteers on February 22nd and 25 dogs were treated.  These workshops are not only a great opportunity to teach and empower locals to provide care to their neighbourhood dogs, but are also great outreach opportunities.  Since hands-on care for animals is not a frequent sight in Varanasi, our team attracts the attention of people passing by and once we’ve piqued their interest, we’re able to tell them about our project and encourage them to help animals in need.  Our team also took the opportunity to hand out leaflets with our helpline number.

Outreach Activities

First aid:  We performed 78 treatments in the last month, a few of them being very complex due to the seriousness of the injury and the intense post-operative care that was required.  Here are the stories of two special dogs that we helped.

Treatments_3 panel

KAALU was run over by a car in chaotic Varanasi, had a broken leg and was in a lot of pain.  Thanks to the outreach efforts of our team over the last few months, compassionate locals Santosh and Nandu called our helpline and our team sprang into action.  It was clear that Kaalu needed immediate veterinary attention (including amputation), with multiple fractures and gangrene spreading from his leg to other parts of his body so we arranged for the veterinary care and transport.  The vet said that significant post-operative care would be required, and without hesitation, Santosh and Nandu volunteered to help their friend.  As a result of their commitment, the veterinarian agreed to save Kaalu.  Amit has visited Kaalu and his human caretakers for follow up care and is happy to report that this sweet dog is doing well!

Kaalu_Before

Kaalu_After

ARCHIE is a cute little street pup who was suffering from an agonizing rectal prolapse.  Luckily, he was found on the streets by a compassionate chai wallah (tea vendor) named Kallu who called our helpline once he saw little Archie.  Our team brought him to get veterinary care and staff member Amit medicated him twice a day while this cutie recovered and was reunited with his mom and siblings.

Archie_Before

Archie_After

 

This past month’s activities was truly a great example of team effort and the power of our outreach and capacity building approach.  Our goal is not to hire one person who can care for all the animals in Varanasi, but to encourage locals to be compassionate about animals and then build their capacity to provide care for them.

We want to give a special shout out the locals who showed tremendous care and compassion for their neighbourhood dogs by calling our helpline when they saw the dogs suffering.  Our appreciation also goes to Amit for being persistent in advocating for these animals, and to our volunteer team for their outreach efforts.  When people know that they can call our helpline for help, they will be more open to turning their concern into action, and when they see that their call made a difference in someone’s life, they will be more likely to make a continued commitment to helping animals in the future.

Help us help the animals!

  • For individuals in Varanasi who want to help street dogs, please contact our Helpline at 9919783355.
  • For individuals who can contribute financially to the project costs, please click here to make a donation – every little bit helps!  We thank everyone in advance for their support!

 

Puppies

As always, we thank our partners, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, Animal Aid Unlimited and Mayhew International.

Project Update: Outreach and First Aid for Dogs in Varanasi

It has been really cold in Varanasi – so cold that classes have even been cancelled (kind of like our snow days in Canada!)  Despite the chilly weather, Amit and our team of volunteers have been out and about to help the street dogs in Varanasi.  Here’s a brief summary of what we’ve done this month.

Education:  A presentation was made to engineering students at Microtek College in Maldhaiyya, Varanasi.  A special thank you goes out to volunteer Parvathy for helping us share the importance of caring for street dogs.

Our volunteer making a presentation to engineering students at Microtek College

Capacity building: First aid workshops were held on January 11th and 18th to teach locals about providing first aid to street dogs and first aid kit contents.  Locals were engaged in the discussion about how they could help animals in their respective neighbourhoods.

Treating the many puppies who live along the Ganges River

Providing treatment to puppies

Outreach:  Leaflets about our program were enthusiastically distributed by staff and volunteers throughout January.  Our hotline call frequency increases right after our outreach activities so we know that these efforts are working!  We love this photo of one of our volunteers sharing her love of dogs with the neighbourhood kids – compassion is contagious!

Our volunteer sharing a love of dogs with the neighbourhood kids

First aid:  Amit and our local volunteers are providing first aid to dogs on a regular basis around Varanasi.  See photos, as a picture’s worth a thousand words!

Amit gaining the trust of this pup with some food

Amit gaining the trust of this pup with some food

A mom and her pups along the river

A mom and her pups along the river

Curious gathering of friends: mommy dog, her pups and a friendly goat!

Curious gathering of friends: mommy dog, her pups and a friendly goat!

Puppy pile!  This man is so compassionate!

Puppy pile! This man is so compassionate!

A neighbourhood man coming to us for help with his puppy

Coming to us for help with his puppy

We love seeing locals showing love and comfort to the pups

We love seeing locals showing love and comfort to the pups

Help us help the animals!

  • For individuals in Varanasi who want to help street dogs, please contact our Helpline at 9919783355.
  • For individuals who can contribute financially to the project costs, please click here to make a donation – every little bit helps!  We thank everyone in advance for their support!

Doggie with skin disease

Happy New Year and Project Update

Happy New Year!  We want to take this opportunity to thank all our supporters who’ve contributed their time and funds to help launch our Outreach and Education Project to help street dogs in Varanasi.

We hope you enjoyed reading our first monthly report.  Here’s a brief summary of what we’ve done since then.

Education:  A presentation was made to 500 students from Ab’s Rowland Secondary School at Harauaa Bazaar in Varanasi.  The students learned about issues such as dog bites and dog behaviour, prevention of rabies and showing compassion to animals.  Students and principal participated with much interest!

Students at Ab's Rowland Secondary engaged in the presentation on compassion for animals

Students at Ab’s Rowland Secondary School excited to ask questions at our presentation on compassion for animals

First Aid:  We continued our first aid treatments for dogs and were really happy to have volunteer Amy join us.  Amy is a veterinary student from Australia and spends her summers in India helping animals and children alike!

Amit and volunteer Amy treating a pup. It's great when children see people role modelling compassion for animals.

Amit and volunteer Amy treating a pup. It’s great when children see people role modelling compassion for animals.

Amy and Amit find a wound on a dog

Amy and Amit find a wound on a dog

Treating the dog above.  It's great when people in the community lend a hand and show interest in helping

Treating the dog above. It’s great when people in the community lend a hand and show interest in helping.

Giving food to a mom and pups hiding from the traffic

Giving food to a mom and pups hiding from the traffic

Capacity building:  The early part of December was spent in a capacity building exercise with an organization called the Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD) in Mumbai. WSD has pioneered the technique of administering first aid on the street, which significantly reduces the need to catch and move the animal to a hospital or a shelter. This, in turn, reduces the trauma faced by the animal and also reduces the chances of secondary infection, which dogs often pick up in shelters.   Our staff learned a lot from WSD and how we can apply this first aid model to Varanasi.

Planning for the new year:  Staff worked on plans for the new year, including more first aid training, the development of outreach materials and scheduling presentations at schools.

Help us help the animals!

  • For individuals in Varanasi who want to help street dogs, please contact our Helpline at 9919783355.
  • For individuals who can contribute financially to the project costs, please click here to make a donation – every little bit helps!  We thank everyone in advance for their support!

Mommies

 

Great Beginnings

This is our first official update of our on-the-ground work in Varanasi – how exciting!  After new staff member Amit completed some training at the wonderful Help in Suffering in Jaipur, he relocated to Varanasi and hit the ground running.  In addition, Project Manager Varda Malhotra visited Varanasi this month.

Nov2014_Pup

Malnourished, injured and sweet

Nov2014_Skin

Poor pup with skin disease

Outreach:  Over the last month, Amit met individually with numerous locals who are empathetic to the plight of animals in Varanasi.  He learned about the challenges that each of them have faced to date around caring for street dogs, the condition of the animals in the neighbourhood, and continued to build on an expanding list of contacts.  A common concern was the number of street dogs with painful skin infections.  Amit also met with government officials, the Chief Veterinary Officer in Varanasi, and students from Banaras Hindu University.  On November 15th, Amit and Varda facilitated a gathering of individuals they met so that the locals could share their experiences, and build a sense of team and excitement.  A strategy was devised and locals volunteered to take on roles based on their varied skill sets.

Nov2014_Meeting

Meeting of prospective volunteers

Education:  Educational presentations were made to students of Banaras Hindu University, and to 1500 students of Imperial School on animal protection issues and how students can play a relevant role in helping animals in distress.

Nov2014_SchoolPresentation

Presentation to 1500 students at Imperial School

Capacity building: A training workshop was held to teach the locals basic animal handling techniques and first aid, and simultaneously help the street dogs with skin infections. The workshop was a good opportunity for participants to learn about animal handling and to overcome their fear of handling street dogs. The participants felt a touch with reality and nearness to the animal through this hands-on participatory training. All the activists appreciated the ointment drive and want to repeat the same at other locations in upcoming weeks.

Nov2014_Training2

Capacity building: applying ointment on puppy

Nov2014_Training1

Capacity building: sore on leg

Nov2014_Training3

Capacity building: helping dog with skin disease

First Aid: When Project Manager Varda visited Varanasi for the project, they did a survey of the condition of dogs to determine first aid needs in the area from Assi Ghat to Kashi Vishwanath temple.  Regular first aid treatments have been provided throughout the month to the dogs in this area, with over 23 dogs being treated to date.

Nov2014_Survey

Recording counts and conditions of dogs

Nov2014_First Aid1

First aid: many dogs have maggots

Nov2014_First Aid2

First aid: skin disease

Nov2014_First Aid3

Administering first aid

We are really happy with this great start to our project!

For individuals in Varanasi who want to help street dogs, please contact our Helpline at 9919783355.

For individuals who can contribute financially to the project costs, please click here to make a donation.  We thank everyone in advance for their support!

Nov2014_Scratched

All scratched up

Nov2014_Animals

Dogs, puppies and goats, oh my!

Project launch!

Dogs of the Ganges Society is thrilled to announce the hiring of Amit Dikshit to our Outreach and Education Project Team!  This marks the official launch of this project as Amit will be working on the ground in Varanasi – over the next few weeks we’ll learn more about him and the activities he’s undertaking, but in the meantime, here’s  a bit of info about him:

Amit is a Law and Science graduate with a passionate interest in animal welfare. Amit previously worked with Help in Suffering for nearly 4 years, managing their project on the sustainable welfare of working equines through community development. This project has helped over 4000 working horses in Jaipur district and its various blocks and was a collaboration between the Animal Welfare department of Bristol University Vet School, the Brooke Hospital for Animals (UK) and Help In Suffering (India). In addition to this, he was also responsible for stopping a number of cruel horse races, and helped with rescue and treatment of sick and injured animals and organising treatment camps. Besides his experience in animal welfare, he has also worked as a registered legal practitioner in the High Court of Rajasthan, Jaipur and as a legal associate with various companies in Delhi.

We visited Help in Suffering during our learning tour of animal welfare organizations in December 2013 and learned a lot from them.  We’re really happy that Amit was a part of the amazing work they’ve done to help animals in India.  Welcome to the team, Amit!

To learn more about our Outreach and Education Project in Varanasi, please visit our What We Do page.  A special thank you to the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) and Animal Aid Unlimited for facilitating the recruitment process, and to Mayhew InternationalFriends of Varanasi and our individual donors for contributing financially to make this project happen!

Any individual donations, large or small, will go towards funding this project and are greatly appreciated – click here to contribute!

Joining Together to Help Animals – National Animal Welfare Conference

From April 12th to 14th I had the privilege of attending the National Animal Welfare Conference hosted by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS).

CFHS did an amazing job organizing the conference, including the incredible lineup of speakers. The ultimate highlight for me was seeing keynote speaker Dr. Jane Goodall. She spoke about the importance of childhood experience, shared touching stories, and gave helpful tips on how she’s been able to convey her message to others throughout her life’s work with animals. At 80 years old, she is the epitome of grace and kindness and, as was clearly evident by the energy of the room, one of her greatest achievements is inspiring generations of people to care about the welfare of animals.

The other highlight for me was meeting Jo-Anne McArthur, photographer and author of We Animals. Jo-Anne’s photographs beautifully (and sometimes heartbreakingly) capture the relationships between human and non-human animals, and her work was captured in the film The Ghosts in our Machine, directed by the equally talented Liz Marshall. I had the opportunity to chat briefly with Jo-Anne after her presentation and was thrilled that Varanasi also has a special place in her heart.

The other speakers were generous in sharing their knowledge and experiences in operating programs for animals, including spay/neuter clinics, sheltering, community outreach, collaboration, and education programs. I appreciated the opportunity to share the story of street dogs in India, and felt inspired by the support that was offered in return.

Join me in sharing the Dogs of the Ganges story, as we can all be ambassadors for the street dogs in India. As Jane Goodall said, “Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help. Only if we help shall all be saved.”

Varanasi, Days 7 & 8

IMG_0710 IMG_0698

The remainder of our time in Varanasi was spent observing dogs on the street, chatting with locals and flushing out our strategy. We continued to see highs and lows; hungry, injured and overbred dogs, children abusing pups, and community members feeding and caring for street dogs in their neighbourhood. Our plan going forward is to hire the right people to do community engagement and education programs, and to arm community members with first aid knowledge and supplies with a goal of reducing the suffering of dogs in their communities.

For more photos from our visit, click here.

Varanasi, Days 5 & 6

IMG_0673 IMG_0675

When the worst of Vinyse’s flu was over, we hit the streets of Varanasi to meet more people and animals. There were many highs and lows experienced in these two days.

On the ghats, we saw litters of puppies, not all alive, many not thriving. We witnessed homeless (or virtually homeless) 2 year olds trying to get tourists to snap photos of them with the puppies in exchange for some rupees, the kids toting the pups around exactly as they would a rag doll.

On the flip side, we saw a community dog come back to the alley after foraging for food with some string hanging out of her mouth and clearly in pain. Immediately the neighbours sprung into action, risking a bite to free a fishing hook lodged in her gums. The mama dog quickly returned to her litter of pups as we tried not to think about what could’ve happened to them had she not been helped.

As we continually increase our understanding of the issues and opportunities and as we focus in on our strategy, these two examples really strengthen our resolve that education and community empowerment are two important keys to shifting the way animals are treated here.

For more photos from our visit, click here.

Varanasi, Days 1 & 2

IMG_0663 IMG_0665

Our first two days in Varanasi were busy! Praveen from HOPE & Animal (Ranchi) joined us and we spent the two days meeting with a few animal lovers, speaking in front of 1000 students, bestowing a street dog pup to a student who was adopting her, and narrowing down our strategy. (Unfortunately Vinyse spent days three and four in bed with the flu).

For more photos from our visit, click here.

Visit to HOPE & Animal, Ranchi

IMG_0657 IMG_0660

Our tour of animal welfare organizations included HOPE & Animal, a partner of Dogs of the Ganges in the Varanasi for Animals project (along with a few other great organizations and individuals). HOPE & Animal treats sick and injured street animals, performs spay/neuter surgeries for street dogs, and provides rabies vaccinations for street dogs. We ran alongside the team as they caught/vaccinated dogs in the city, visited the clinic where they were spaying/neutering dogs, and visited the shelter where they keep dogs that require a longer recovery time. After numerous Skype calls with Praveen who runs HOPE & Animal, we were so happy to have finally met him in person!

For more photos from our visit, click here.

Visit to Animal Aid, Udaipur

IMG_0643 IMG_0648

We visited the beautiful animal shelter/hospital Animal Aid in Udaipur. Erika, Jim and Claire are so passionate about caring for animals and protecting their rights. On their acreage amidst peaceful surroundings, we visited with dogs, cows and donkeys. They treat and release animals that are fit to return to the streets, but for those special souls that have disabilities, Animal Aid provides for them a permanent home to live out the rest of their days in a caring environment.

For more photos from our visit, click here.

Visit to Help in Suffering, Jaipur

IMG_0637 IMG_0639

Our first stop in our tour of animal welfare organizations was Help in Suffering (HIS) in Jaipur. Here we met with Dr. Jack Reece and HIS staff to learn about the amazing things they’ve been doing since they were founded in 1980. They were so generous with their time and knowledge. We also enjoyed meeting all the dogs, cats, donkeys, camel, horses, cows, and birds that they’re helping. Another highlight was meeting the students of a local school who had made a donation to HIS and were visiting their shelter. After chatting with these thoughtful kids, we know that future generations will increasingly care for animals and view them as our friends…truly inspiring!

For more photos from our visit, click here.

Planning a Trip to India

Last December, we were tourists in Varanasi and fell in love with the animals there.  It’s amazing how much change one year can bring to your life.  For us, the past year has included starting a not-for-profit in Canada and joining a worldwide partnership to provide medical care for street dogs in Varanasi.  This December, we’ll be returning to India to develop a greater presence in Varanasi and to start the process of building a shelter.  While we’re there, we will also visit cities that have well-established animal shelters to learn their best practices.  There are so many great organizations but we can’t visit them all in one go, so our plan for this year includes Jaipur, Udaipur and Ranchi.

Planning a trip to India isn’t easy, but the end result is well worth it.  Within the next few weeks we will get our vaccines, apply for our travel visas, decide between planes and trains for our domestic trips, sort out where we’ll be staying, and plan what we’ll pack so that we’re travelling as light as possible.

Stay tuned to our website and Facebook page to get updates on our progress and to see photos of the amazing animals and people we meet along the way.

Why Varanasi?

280 Ghats

Dogs of the Ganges Society started as a result of us visiting Varanasi, India as part of a three-city trip, which also included Kathmandu and Bodhgaya.   For those supporters who’ve never been there, I thought I’d share excerpts from the journal I wrote while we were there so that they can get a sense of why we chose Varanasi as our first project for this organization.  Our experiences there made a deep impression in our hearts, and we left knowing that we’d be back to do something about the animal neglect and abuse that we saw.

How This Story Begins

On December 11, 2012, Derek and I were having a leisurely stroll along the ghats of Varanasi, soaking it all in – the Ganges River that gives so much to its people, and the people who live out their daily lives at the river: praying, bathing, eating, washing their clothes, socializing, and when life has ended, cremating loved ones.

LifeonGhats Ghats

We sat near the Dashashwamedh Ghat, where the evening aarti is held.  There were locals, tourists, children, and pilgrims; peanut sellers, barbers, and men who offered the service of cleaning your ears with a long sharp object; women laughing in resignation when a wandering cow decided to chew on their sari, drying in the sun.  There were also three beautiful dogs, likely brothers, who foraged for scraps of food and relaxed on the steps of the ghats.