In order to thank our amazing volunteers, we have started introducing them to you. Today, one of our ex-volunteers is here to tell you about her time at the shelter. Laura volunteered at JCN Inawashiro for 7 months, putting her name in our list of long-term volunteers.
During Larua's time at the shelter, she welcomed and bid farewell to countless other volunteers, took the dogs out for walks during white snow, heavy rains and also bright sunny days.
Here’s her experience in her own words -
“I really have no words to explain how my experience was during my stay at the shelter in Inawashiro.
I came here first because the shelter was in Japan and my dream was to stay in Japan for a long time, and also because I love animals, especially cats. I didn’t know what to expect from the mission but I wanted to experience it. And finally, in fact, it was more than I could ever expect.
As volunteers, we have to take care of 2 dogs and 18 cats. If you love animals, it’s the best place to go because it’s fantastic and amazing. I arrived during winter time, so Inawashiro was all white, under the snow. It was cold but I think the winter landscape is my favorite. I didn’t know I would love nature so much. Walking the dogs in a really quiet forest with beautiful scenery of just trees and rivers and on top of that having a lot of cats in the house, sleeping, playing with them, made it the best “job” ever for me.
We have to work at the shelter and give some love to the animals but in my opinion, it’s the opposite. It’s not us who give them love; it’s them who give us love. The cats do that by looking at you, meowing at you and climbing on you. I learnt a lot from them and to me, they’re not just animals, they’re the same as us. They are my babies and I miss them already! I wish all of them a lot of happiness and I hope they will find greats families that take care of them.
Because I spent so much time at the shelter (7 months), I have a lot of things that I could talk about but it’s just too much to put into some words. I think you have to experience it by yourself to understand what the life is like over there at the shelter.
The cats and dogs are rescued and all of them have their own story. I always feel sad to see people abandon animals and leave them in bad conditions. I can’t understand why people do that, so I always want to do my best for these babies, who just need love.
While I was at the JCN Inawashiro shelter, we saved 3 kittens. It will forever be one of the best experiences in my life. I can’t explain the feeling I felt at that time, but I was just glad to see these cats live. I saw them change step by step, become better & happier and it’s a relief to be able to assist that. Zelda was in bad condition, everyone thought she wouldn’t make it but finally now, she’s the kitten with the most energy in the shelter. I think animals know when you help them and are thankful for that. Zelda is the best example of this. I have a special connection with her because I was always with her and I totally didn’t care about what I had to do, to help her. And it was the same for all the others cats too.
It’s difficult to describe, really, because I think what I experienced over there was indescribable. Now, I feel like I’m a new person because it permitted me to grow up, to become better. It’s not just the shelter and their incredible mission but it’s also the volunteers I met there. I have a lot of memories in my head, and also in my heart. I’ll surely never forget my time at the shelter and if I can, later, I hope I can go back to this wonderful place again.
If you have time, please try to do it once because it’s something everyone should try at least once in their life. If you don’t have the time to volunteer, donate to the shelter (https://japancatnetwork.org/donate). Any amount helps and they surely deserve it!”
Thank you for everything Laura. JCN's furry residents miss you too!
Words by Hannah Davenport. Photography by Fernanda De Icaza.
Celebrating our wonderful volunteers with a big night out, thanking this week's amazing donors, and heading out to help residents in Fukushima's evacuated areas.
JCN Volunteer Rai-Lee made a fun video, highlighting her experience at the JCN Inawashiro shelter as well as sightseeing around beautiful Inawashiro and Fukushima.
The snow has cleared the sun is shining and the volunteer team are taking the opportunity to tidy.