CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- It was during her third trip to India in 2005 that
Joellen Secondo met Indian animal activist Maneka Gandhi, and
explained her idea -- to buy crafts from India and sell them in the
United States, and donating the profits to animal welfare
organizations in India.
At the meeting, Gandhi gave Secondo a chance to make her work help
animals twice over. She told Secondo about People For Animals' peace
silk -- silk made without killing silkworm cocoons -- which Secondo
immediately added to her product line. Secondo, a Web editor with
Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, sells crafts from
various Indian fair trade organizations, and donates the profits to
groups working for animals in India.
"So, in buying the silk, I'm helping animals and then with the
profits, the money will go back to animals," says Secondo, a
Cambridge, Mass. resident. "It was kind of fortuitous that I met her."
Her Web site, www.joyatri.com, carries bags, shawls, scarves, jewelry,
paintings, toys and other gift items, all made by local artisans and
bought using fair trade practices. Secondo's Bastar necklaces cost
between $27 and $35, and photographs by Michelle Lohutko of Portland,
Maine, depicting stray dogs in India are sold for $40 to $50.
Secondo says that India is actually far ahead of the curve when it
comes to animal rights because of Hinduism and Jainism, and St. Joan
agrees. For example, she says, practically all the gaushalas, shelters
for cows, are run by Jains.
The laws protect animals, says Secondo, although people might flout
the laws. "India has built into much of its culture, the protection of
animals," says Secondo, a vegetarian.
Most of the ill-treatment really stems from poverty, Secondo says, and
not necessarily a lack of love or respect for the animal. "A mahout
may respect and love his elephant, but he will also beat the elephant
to get it to do what he wants, because he needs the money the elephant
brings in," she adds.
This year, Secondo made her fourth trip to India, to attend the Asia
for Animals Conference, held in Chennai in January. It was there that
she met members from the Best Friends Animal Society, people she had
spoken and corresponded with, but had never seen.
After the conference, which she describes as "eye opening," she
traveled to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in
Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh with St. Joan and others from the Best
Friends Animal Society.