On December 30, 2012 I boarded an United Emirates’ flight from Seattle, WA to Harare, Zimbabwe to spend the first month of the new year fulfilling a life long dream; experiencing Africa while rescuing and rehabbing animals at Bally Vaughn Animal Sanctuary. Little did I know that I would be the one being rescued and rehabbed by the end of my journey.
Bally Vaughn was founded by the late Robin McIntosh and his wife Katherine in the late 1980’s. I have no knowledge of what Mr. McIntosh’s dreams were for BV but if it was to create a place of love, safety and a forever home for 100’s of rescued and rehabilitated animals, I can honestly say that his dream has come true thanks in large part to Sarah Carter who took over the running of BV in 2005. Under Sarah’s guidance, unwavering commitment and profound love and respect, the residents of BV (animal and human alike) began to thrive and flourish like never before.
I stumbled upon Bally Vaughn’s website when I was searching for a place to heal my soul. I was coming out of painful divorce and knew that I wanted to get away and immerse myself in anything but… well, myself. I investigated a lot of different volunteer opportunities but I knew the minute I read the mission statement on BV’s website I had found my place. I was overjoyed when I was accepted as a volunteer and counted down the days with excitement.
During my time at Bally Vaughn I began to heal. Through administering love and kindness to others the cracks in my heart began to mend and my soul was once again filled with joy. I will share more about this amazing experience in future posts but right now, it’s not about me. It’s about the animals.
The current owners of the land (and unfortunately, some of the animals) that Bally Vaughn resides on, decided last year to increase the rent in such a way that Sarah (who relies on donations and visitor income to fund the sanctuary and it’s staff) would have no choice but to leave BV and all that she loved behind. Their goal, in my opinion, was to get their hands on all of the animal residents and the income they generated. Taking possession of the lions being their main objective.
What they didn’t count on was Sarah Carter’s love and commitment to each and every living breathing soul on that property. Through hard work, donations of time, materials and money, Sarah was able to purchase property and begin creating a new forever home for her beloved animals. It was an exciting time for Sarah and all who love and support her and the work that she has done in the field of rescue and rehabilitation.
When the day came to start moving out of Bally Vaughn to The Twala Trust Animal Sanctuary the gates were blocked and chained by the owners of the land. They had filed an injunction against Sarah prohibiting her from removing anything or any animal from the property by claiming “ownership” of all animals.
This battle has been going on for months and just yesterday Sarah was evicted from the property, forced to leave behind every single animal including her beloved Caracals that she has raised since babies, in her home on the property.
I could go on and on about each lion, baboon, hyena, monkey (marmoset, vervet), owl, cockatoo, donkey, horse, zebra, reptile but I could never do it the way that Sarah Carter could. She knows each one individually… like a mother knows each hair on a her child’s head, so does Sarah. These are her children.
Sarah wasn’t the only one given 25 minutes to vacate the premises. The staff who lived there were evicted as well. Imagine yourself being nine months pregnant with a five year old, scrambling to gather what you can carry, filled with fear and confusion. That is what it was like yesterday at Bally Vaughn.
My goal with this blog is to bring awareness where there is none and raise it where it already exists. To shine light into the darkness in the hope that justice will be served. To help these animals reside in a place where they will be loved and well taken care of.
I invite those of you that have visited Bally Vaughn or Twala Trust, know Sarah or the animals to share your stories. Use this as yet another forum to spread awareness.