I was surfing the Internet one day searching for some kind of adventure. I looked for hours at various overseas charities, orphanages, animal welfare groups, and so on. None of them seemed to be quite what I was after. I gave up and began checking my e-mails instead, and there among the usual spam and silly cat pictures was an e-mail from PETA. At the bottom of it, a link for volunteering and internship opportunities caught my eye. After a few minutes of reading through previous interns’ experiences, I made up my mind. I wanted to go to Manila to be an intern at PETA Asia. I applied immediately. Within a few weeks, after having a telephone interview and exchanging several e-mails, I received an e-mail stating that I’d been accepted. I was in! The next step was to get on Google and find out where the hell Manila is!
I flew to the Philippines after a month of backpacking around Asia, already feeling a little homesick and a bit nervous and with no idea what to expect. I needn’t have worried, though. All the staff and volunteers at the office made me feel right at home, and I was kept so busy that I barely had time to miss life back in Australia!
Working in the office and spending hours behind a computer took a bit of getting used to, but every task was made worthwhile by thinking of the end results. And of course, the delicious vegan lunch that I received every day helped! One of the highlights of my time with PETA was dressing up in the elephant costume, dancing in the streets, and leafleting for the “Free Mali” campaign. Visiting the zoo to get photos and video footage of Mali was heartbreaking, but it made me even more determined to help fight for her release.
Every Saturday morning, I joined a few of the staff to catch the train out to Taft Avenue, a nearby area, to feed, bathe, and give lots of cuddles to some very neglected dogs who spend their days chained up with little access to food and water or roaming the streets fighting to survive. I’ll never forget the wagging tails of Tinkerbell, Christmas, Brownie, Suski, and all the other beautiful dogs, who wait all week for the very dedicated and compassionate PETA team to arrive, hopefully bearing toys or treats. But the most special dog I met during my time with PETA was Grace, a rescued Doberman, who comes into the office every day. But don’t tell her I called her a dog—I’m sure she thinks she’s human!
I also had some great nights out with the PETA staffers, enjoying yummy vegan meals or a never-ending supply of chips and salsa, drinking (extremely cheap!) beers, and watching live Filipino bands. One of the best days out was our journey to Mount Manalmon, which involved a bus ride, a tricycle trip, a raft, lots of walking while trying not to slip in the mud, a picnic on top of the mountain, and a much-needed swim in the river, stopping along the way to tend to several “street dogs” with mange.
It’s hard to believe that a month has gone by and that it’s time to go home already! I’ve made some wonderful new friends, both human and nonhuman, and learned so much. I’m so glad I made the decision to go to Manila, and I feel honored to have worked with PETA.
Posted by former PETA Asia-Pacific intern Naomi Boscoe