Street animals of Istanbul changed my life

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In Youth 4 Global Goals: The Series Season 2, sponsored by PwC, 10 young people went across the globe on an AIESEC Global Volunteer experience to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. Read the story of Ebad Rehman from Paksitan, who went to Turkey to contribute to the street animals in Istanbul, and to Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land. 

Being a purpose driven individual who had never travelled internationally, after joining AIESEC and realizing the importance of cross cultural exchange, I made a promise to myself that whenever I travel abroad it will be with purpose and not just for the sake of travelling. This was the very first time that I set foot outside my country, Pakistan, and I am so glad that this little step made a huge impact.

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Imagine being stranded alone on the streets left unnoticed. Imagine having no permanent shelter nor food. I’m sure none of you would want to be in such a situation. Just like us, animals can think and feel and we shouldn’t leave them out on the pavements.

This is the very reason I chose a Global Volunteer Project for Sustainable Development Goal 15, Life on Land. The project revolved around volunteering in an animal shelter, feeding and spending time with , animals, feeding street animals and developing marketing campaigns for people to adopt them .On the very first day as I was going towards my project I couldn’t help but notice that the streets of Istanbul were filled with so many animals; upon arriving at the animal shelter I asked the staff for reasons. I got to know that the busy life of the city, Homes with no outdoor areas and high costs were major reasons for people to not keep pet.

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In just six weeks in a completely unfamiliar country and a team of young energetic individuals from various corners of the world, the project team had a huge task at hand.

Being from different backgrounds and cultures it hardly took me a week to bond well enough to call all the interns my family as we were all unified by the cause of our project. Out of the 5 working days we spent two days in the animal shelter volunteering for the injured and ill animals who required special attention and care. I spent the day taking out the dogs at the animal shelter for walks, feeding them and playing with them. Soon enough I had developed a wonderful bond with the dogs of the shelter and it gave me joy and happiness to spend time with these amazing creatures. The next two days were spent out on the streets of Istanbul with food for street dogs. We divided ourselves into teams and looked for street dogs. Played and spent time with them and provided them food.

The remaining one day was spent developing marketing campaigns to attract people to adopt animals. We started our own NGO by the name of Be My Shelter which gained a lot of attention on social media and the press in Turkey. I got the chance to make amazing promotional videos and marketing content with my team of global volunteers by exchanging different ideas and perspectives. We found permanent shelters for many animals in the animal shelter and the increasing interest of the locals in adopting animals gave us more joy.

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Not only did I get to travel and explore the mesmerizing sites in Turkey, meet people who I am glad to call my friends, but I also got the opportunity to create global impact. 

I was able to interact with cultures from all across the world, get a fresh perspective on the issues regarding life on land. I took on the challenges one faces during an exchange in a totally new setting. I became more self-aware and exchanged ideas with purpose driven individuals who were willing to make an impact in order to empower others and I became more solution oriented as a global citizen. This exchange gave me the opportunity to discover more about myself and I can say without a doubt that it has changed me completely.

Would you like to know more about my journey? Have a look at Youth 4 Global Goals: The Series! Would you like to live an experience like mine as well and create an impact for the Sustainable Development Goals? Sign up and become a Global Volunteer yourself!


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