All People for Animals in Cuba - Blog

My name is Richelle and I Am The Change

This is a Blog post series from our entire APAC team. Each post will describe who we are, what we do and how we individually started this journey of helping the Cuban animals in need.

How did you get involved with APAC?

In 2018 I traveled with my family to Varadero for a vacation. I had been to other countries with stray animals before without falling in love, so I didn’t expect to this time, but then I met a beautiful black and white cat. She wasn’t the most affectionate cat, but I was fortunate enough to have been one of her few chosen people. Our bond grew over the course of my first week at the resort, as I watched out for her, showered her with affection (on her terms), and fed her lots of fish, which led to me naming her Pesca. Unfortunately, she was injured and I knew that, without help, her chances of survival weren’t high. I did some googling and came across a group called APAC. When I contacted them about her, they said they could help, and immediately formed a plan to catch and treat her. After not being able to find her, Anton, the Cuban team lead, left a crate with me, and with a bit of effort and teamwork, my family and I were able to get her into it. We gave her to Anton the next day and he whisked her off to the vet. Tera, the director of APAC, contacted me later with a message that broke my heart. My poor, scared, little Pesca hadn’t taken kindly to being handled by strangers, and had proceeded to raise hell and escape the clinic. They assured me they would look for her, but despite the team’s best efforts, she managed to evade them.

Weeks after our return, my aunt decided to adopt a cat from APAC. Because I had dealt with them before, I handled the communication with APAC. Through these events, I got to know the team, and I was overjoyed when they asked me to join.
Pesca brought Tera and I together, and I’ll always remember her and be grateful to her for that, but I joined APAC because the work they do spoke to me and I knew it was where I was needed and where I was meant to be.

What made APAC stand out to you?

Tera, Anton, and the rest of the team were so genuinely caring and truly full of passion and devotion to what they do, that it came across in our communications and the effort they put into helping Pesca. This is what stood out to me.

In your own words, describe APAC?

APAC, at its core, is devoted to improving the lives of animals in Cuba, but to me it’s about empowering people, both in Cuba and internationally, who want to help by providing a means by which they can. We offer volunteer opportunities to locals and tourists alike, sponsorship programs and donation opportunities for those who want to contribute financially, adoption help for those who want to bring home a furry loved one, and so much more. However, my favorite service we provide is the education and free supplies and low cost vet services for locals in Cuba. I believe that enabling people to provide proper pet care helps to strengthen the bond between humans and animals. That is what APAC is to me.

What is your role?

I’m the Canadian Coordinator of APAC. I help Tera in handling communication with tourists, organizing donation pick ups and tourist visits to the APAC House, and facilitating rescues and adoptions.

What do you most hope to achieve through your work with APAC?

For me, the ultimate goal is to no longer be needed. I hope that our work can help common misconceptions and negative views change, and demonstrate that programs like sterilization clinics and low cost vet services are beneficial to all. I dream that one day these programs will be officially endorsed so that the people of Cuba can begin to build their own independent programs that don’t rely on overseas aid.