Sally Varma exemplifies selflessness and compassion. For years she has been working tirelessly in making this society a better place for the voiceless living beings. She was selected as one of the 100 women achievers of India in the category of Animal Welfare and was awarded by the President of India!
Working for animals that don’t have a voice of their own is what drives me forward. It is very depressing sometimes and I get emotionally down but the feeling that someone has to do something about it and that someone is me, takes me forward.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before choosing this field?
I’m Sally Varma and I have been working for animals in Kerala for a long time now. After completing my graduation in Journalism and Functional English, I used to initially volunteer in animal welfare organisations part time, while working on other regular jobs. In 2014, I attended an animal welfare training course held by Animal welfare board of India and became an Honorary Animal Welfare Officer and along with that joined NGO Humane Society International /India as Outreach Coordinator in Kerala and opted it as a full time job. Also completed paravet training from Worldwide Veterinary Services in Ooty. In 2016 was selected as one of the 100 women achievers of India in the category of Animal Welfare and was awarded by the President of India. Worked with HSI/India in the district of Malappuram, Kerala for 2 years for a sterilisation and vaccination program of street dogs and became famous as the female dog catcher with compassion of Kerala. During the Kerala flood of 2018, worked with the HSI team to rescue animals all over Kerala. Presently working as Senior Outreach Coordinator of HSI/India doing farm animal welfare outreach and awareness in Kerala. Also did a TEDx talk in Trivandrum in January 2019 on the situation of street dogs in Kerala.
How did you land up doing what you do now?
Humane Society International /India has always been one of my favorite organisation and during a training program of AWBI, got a chance to meet the director of the NGO and then got hired. It was a dream come true.
What keeps you motivated?
Working for animals that don’t have a voice of their own is what drives me forward. Every time, I make a difference in the life of a living being that cannot stand for its own gives me the motivation to do more. It is very depressing sometimes and I get emotionally down but the feeling that someone has to do something about it and that someone is me, takes me forward.
How do you plan to stay ahead of your competitors?
There are no competitors. Everyone who works for animals does so to the maximum of their capacity. Everyone won’t be able to do the same but each tries to put in their best. As long as there is no ego and everyone accepts what others do, there won’t be any issues.
If not the current profession, what would you have been?
I would have loved to be a veterinarian but seeing animals in pain is very difficult for me and I think working for their welfare without being a veterinarian is sometimes better.
Was your family supportive of what you are doing? What impact have they had on your life?
Yes, I have always had the benefit of having a very supportive family in all what I do. I have to be away from home most of the time and even though it is difficult sometimes, family has always wanted me to do what I love doing.
What are your plans for the next 2 years?
To spread maximum awareness in the people of Kerala and to make them treat animals as living beings and not as commodities or things. To get good relationships with government representatives and to also make animal welfare a part of school curriculum here.
What does a typical day at work consist of for you?
Till a few months back, a typical working day consisted of being in the back of a catching vehicle with street dogs caught for sterilisation surgery and vaccination. The aim behind that was to make the public realise that street dogs are not dangerous and don’t hurt people unless they are threatened. Presently work involves going to schools and colleges and taking awareness sessions to students and staff on living conditions of farm animals and how we can make a difference to them.
Any regrets till now? If yes, will you like to share it with our readers?
The only regret I have is towards animals that I couldn’t save and those who laid their trust on me but still nothing could be done to help them.
If you were given a choice of meeting any person you want from your field, who will be that person? What will you ask that person?
Jane Goodall is one of my heroes in Animal Welfare and getting to meet her is one of my dreams. I will tell her that if I could be at least half the person that she is, I would have made a difference in my life.
Any message for our readers?
It is in our hands to make a difference for these animals by simply making better choices in our life. Speak up for animals as we are their only hope and don’t treat them as commodities.
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