August 14, 2008
Rosemary Gordon: Helping People and Animals in Peru
She was a child when she left her birthplace, but a part of Rosemary Gordon remembered that Peru was her true home. After 40 years in South Africa, she returned to Colán, a small fishing village near the border with Ecuador, with the intention of spending her time painting. Her focus, however, quickly changed, and for the past decade she has spent her time improving the lives of the animals and humans who inhabit this remote landscape.
Colán, in the Piura region of Peru, is not an easy place to live. It is dry and dusty, far from any urban centers. Resources for the human population are scarce, and for the animal population, almost nonexistent. Rosemary lives with few of the amenities to which most of us are accustomed. Yet she has become remarkably skilled at pulling together what resources do exist, combining them with her limitless energy and dedication, and making true changes for the better in her region.
HSI helps with horses
About seven years ago, Rosemary enlisted the help of HSI in assessing the welfare of working equines in northern Peru. Although working equines form the basis of the economy for many communities, they face an array of welfare problems on a daily basis. They often must carry heavy burdens perched on makeshift saddles and harnesses through poorly maintained roads and trails. They may suffer from poor nutrition and dehydration, and typically do not have access to veterinary or farrier care. As a result, their lifespan is often significantly less than that of a healthy, well-cared-for horse. Rosemary has organized equine health clinics every year since that first clinic seven years ago, when more than 700 horses were treated by visiting veterinarians. Since that time, she has reached thousands of horses, donkeys and mules. For the Peruvian people who depend on equines for their very survival, Rosemary is not only an animal protectionist but a true humanitarian as well.
Spay/neuter for street animals
The equine clinic occurs once per year, but Rosemary is busy year-round with other animal welfare programs. The street animals in Colan, like the horses, suffer from a variety of veterinary problem and do not have access to medical care. Rosemary has facilitated training for the local vets in Piura and worked with foreign vets to spay and neuter cats and dogs and raise the standard of veterinary care. Her organization, Asosiacion Humanitaria de San Francisco de Assisi (Humane Association of Saint Francis of Assisi), currently provides spay/neuter services for about 40 animals per month.
Promoting awareness and training
The thread that ties all of this work together is education. From the primary schools to the university level, Rosemary brings the concept of humane education and veterinary care to the classroom. She has facilitated the training of several humane educators in Piura who conduct classroom workshops year-round. These educators also travel along with the annual equine clinic, providing workshops concurrent with the clinic. She has arranged for foreign vets to lecture at the local university, and for university students to participate in animal health clinics as part of the Blessing of the Animals.
A decade of dedication
Rosemary has said that, as the daughter of two nationalities, she's not always sure whether she is Peruvian or South African. But she is absolutely certain of her passion for animals and her desire to help them live better lives. She has done that effectively for almost 10 years in an extreme and challenging environment. HSI would like to recognize this extraordinary accomplishment, and extend our utmost gratitude for Rosemary's dedication and resourcefulness in the field of animal welfare.
HSI is pleased to extend the 2008 Award for Extraordinary Commitment and Achievement to Rosemary Gordon.