The Stories Of Change

Abused for Feeding The Animals

Farida was pelted with stones while she was feeding some stray dogs and Suman was called crazy and boycotted by her family because she dedicated her life towards feeding stray animals. This is the story of these feeders and their selfless journeys of animal welfare.

Suman Sawant, middle-aged woman works as a house help in Mumbai. Every day, after she finishes her work she rushes back to her tiny house in the slum to prepare meals for the stray animals. Carrying huge containers filled with home made cat and dog food, Suman leaves her house at 8 in the night and wanders in the streets of Mumbai till 2 in the morning, feeding about 200 stray animals every day.

Suman started feeding the animals 20 years ago and has never missed a single day. These hundreds of animals are dependent upon Suman for that one meal of the day.

Farida (left), Suman (centre) and another woman feeder from Mumbai.

However, her dedication towards this noble cause has come with a cost. Suman faces extreme backlash from the community, she is looked down upon and has often been disrespected.

“People call me crazy. But I don’t care. I tell them yes I am crazy, you go and let this crazy woman do her work,” Suman says.

The things are more difficult for women because there are several stereotypes attached to a single woman roaming in the streets.

Suman feeds the animals at night because there are less people on the streets to judge her and harass her. 

There are many feeders like Suman who have dedicated their lives towards the well-being of the ignored stray animals.

These women take up the responsibility of hundreds of animals with no second thoughts, and continue taking care of them even in the toughest of situations.

And yet, they are not given the respect that they truly deserve. They have been called crazy, been pelted with stones, threatened to be removed from their homes, the animals they feed have been injured and beaten and they have been accused of littering, amongst many other far worse things they have experienced.

There have been of that of physical assault and sexual harassment. In fact, in one case, a woman’s entire house was burnt down, because she refused to stop feeding stray animals in her area.

A documentary, Feeders, is throwing light on these amazing heroes who are selflessly caring for the animals.

“Through this film, we want to spread awareness about the noble things they do and get them the positive recognition from society that they deserve,” said Mriidu Khosla, Director of Feeders.

Khosla has been actively working in the field of animal welfare from several years and it was her personal experience with a feeder in 2010 that inspired her to do something for the community.

The film features about 14 such incredible women and their journeys. These featured women come from different backgrounds and age groups. From college going girls to retired professionals, feeders is a diverse community with a common mission to serve the animals.

Farida Engineer is one of the women featured in the documentary. Farida, an elderly woman from Mumbai comes from an economically strong background. She lives alone and feeds about 100 stray animals every day twice.

“When these animals see me they start jumping and running. They all get so happy,” Farida shares.

Although Suman and Farida come from different backgrounds, but there challenges are similar. Farida too faces constant backlash from the society. In face, people once threw stones at her and asked her to stop creating the nuisance.

On the other hand, Banat and Shivani are the youngest feeders in the film. In their early twenties, the duo uses their pocket money to feed the animals. They are aware of the laws and their rights and they have often taken the Police’s help in case people tried to stop them from feeding the animals.

Feeders has covered eight such women from Mumbai already and are looking to shoot about 10 more women from other parts of the country.

“There are different challenges in different regions of the country. Every state has a different landscape and different issues. That’s why we want to cover feeders from across India,” says Khosla.

Feeders team now needs your support to finish the shooting. They have completed about 50 percent of the film and are seeking more funds to finish the remaining film. They are raising Rs 19 lakhs through a crowdfunding campaign on Wishberry.

The funds will be used to travel to different locations in India to film other women, rent equipment, and finish the post-production and marketing of the film. Some part of the funding will also be used to support the feeders.

The film is expected to be released at various film festivals in 2020.

To become part of this amazing initiative, donate to their campaign here.

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Shreya Pareek

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