Lower School News
By Angela Park, Senior Communications Officer
Cats, dogs, turtles, birds, jaguars, oh my! These animals are just a few of those cared for by Graded Animal Alliance (GAA). Founded in 2009, GAA is a student-led club that partners with multiple animal rescue non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These organizations include Aliança Internacional do Animal (AILA), a large animal shelter that provides life care and adoption services to stray and abused domestic animals, and Mata Ciliar, a group committed to rescuing and rehabilitating endangered wild animals.
"One of the best things about GAA is that we are proactive; we have a lot of things going on all the time," said senior and club leader Fleur V. "If we're not going on visits to local shelters, we are organizing fundraisers."
The club's most successful fundraising initiative is the famous Valentine's Day Gram. Leading up to the special day, members sell and deliver orchids, succulents, and sweets to raise funds for the club's important initiatives and partner organizations. This year, GAA raised R$1,500 and chose Mata Ciliar and the Onçafari, a jaguar preservation project, as their valentine. In December, club members visited the Onçafari project in the Pantanal region to learn more about jaguar relocation initiatives after a recent forest fire that had decimated 60% of the local flora.
"The trip to the Pantanal was something brand new and unique for the group because we were able to observe the problems wild animals face in their actual habitat," said group advisor and Athletics & Activities Supervisor Lika Kishino. "Shadowing the NGO's staff allowed our students to learn not only about wildlife but also about the people who fight for the animals every day."
GAA also supports rescued animals within the local community, scheduling visits to cat and dog shelters around the area. Last September, they painted and cleaned cat cages and donated newspapers for litter boxes.
"It is always a good experience to help and care for the animals. Even small actions such as petting and showing affection improve their quality of life," beamed Fleur.
Ms. Kishino noted that students who get involved become more conscious of the problems animals face. Consequently, they display a great interest in raising awareness of animals' needs and developing fundraising strategies for partner organizations.
"I hope that from this experience students learn that even a small action can make a difference in animals' lives," said Ms. Kishino. That could be playing and making toys for the furry friends at AILA, or cleaning the labs and spaces that will become rehab enclosures."
Fleur added, "Anyone who is interested in helping animals should join the club! There are many animals that need our help."