Rakhee Sharma has been overseeing the Kalandar rehab program for the past 7 years. Her day starts bright and earlier, usually around 5 AM and she doesn’t stop until almost midnight. Find out more about the woman who has helped thousands of Kalandar men, women and children.
1. What is your title and how long have you been working for Wildlife SOS? I have been working for Wildlife SOS for the last 7 years as the Kalandar Community Rehabilitation Coordinator.
2. What did you do prior to working for Wildlife SOS? I was working as the Equine Welfare Project Manager for Brooke Hospital for Animals/Help in Suffering.
3. Tell us some of the things you do with the Kalandar rehabilitation project?
There are a number of needs the Kalandar Communities have. However, I primarily focus on women empowerment, educating the Kalandar community children, advising them on employment options and helping them to become independent by arranging a variety of trainings.
4. You have helped hundreds of people, is there on that stands out for you, somebody you really feel like you were able to make a difference for?
No, I feel blessed fo feel like I am a cherished part of all of their families.
5. You love animals, but a lot of what you do is working with people. Tell us how your role helps animals.
Before joining Wildlife SOS, I was directly working for the welfare of animals and I thought strongly that that was the best way to serve animals. However, after joining Wildlife SOS, I feel proud that I am helping to develop a new generation of animal lover in the Kalandar community. I see children who are becoming sensitive towards animals and are starting to think for the betterment of animals. Due to this rehabilitation project, we are able to stop or reduce community people to not poach or exploit wild animals. So, indirectly, I am helping a lot of animals.
6. What are some of the things you like to do when you aren’t working?
I love reading literature, writing poetry and listening to music. The task that gives me the most pleasure over any of these hobbies is playing with stray dogs and caring for them. I actually go searching for hungry, sick or starving dogs so i can feed them. If I am not with the Kalandar community you can usually find me playing with the dogs on any lane/street.
7. What is something you have learned in your role?
I was never a good listener, but now I am. I have learned to listen very patiently, in every circumstance. I am better at facing challenges and problems with patience and bravery. I learned to maintain healthy relatioship between a person and society with trust. On one hand, while the grievances of the Kalandar Society made me strong emotionally, on the other hand their problems and challenges made me firm and determined mentally.
8. What would you like people to know about the Kalandar people you work with? In my opinion, they have come a long way but have yet to come into main stream society and this needs to happen. Although poverty, illiteracy and unemployment are major hurtles to lift them up, they are on the right path and Wildlife SOS is appreciated for the work done in the community. In addition to the contribution of Wildlife SOS, society will have to share the responsibility to achieve the above goals, so they can live respectufully and an independent life. It is painful to see uncertainty and curiosity in the eyes of tiny tots of this community. A few lovers of human beings may put and end to their problems, which ultimately may lead to their lives full of prosperity and happiness.
9. What else should people know about you?
There is nothing much left to tell about me. I am just a simple, common girl who feels that life is a beautiful gift of God, which should be dedicated towards service to other human beings and animals.