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Helping Animal Activists in India

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.
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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.

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full story:
http://www.indianewengland.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier =4&id=25B74634528042F39ACFE5784BBE5DA4


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