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My #IceBucketChallenge and Why Those Who Condemn It Should Think Again

Above is my video for the #IceBucketChallenge. Despite being in faraway Australia, one of my friends kindly remembered to nominate me.

As with the ‘No Makeup Selfie’ campaign, skeptics were quick to brand the ‘ALS IceBucketChallenge’ as yet another Facebook fad, allegedly designed first and foremost for shallow people and attention-seekers to collect ‘likes’ and receive virtual pats on the back from their friends and followers for doing a good deed. Some even argue that the challenge does more harm than good.

This is where I disagree. In fact, I will go as far as saying that actually, these people bloody well deserve a pat on the back. Because as stupid as you may find these ‘challenges’, the people who partake in them are helping charities make the world a better place, either directly by donating or indirectly by raising awareness. As most charities’ mission statements will tell you, raising awareness and educating people about the cause they fight for are vital parts of their work. You may argue that many people are now simply uploading videos of themselves having buckets of water poured over their heads and nominating their friends to do the same. Well, you’re right. A lot of participants – including celebrities – seem to be forgetting that there is a serious message behind the fun and aren’t appealing for people to donate, which is a shame. However, IceBucketChallenge has to date raised $94 Million for the ALS Association alone, with the Motor Neurone Disease Association in the UK and Macmillan Cancer Support being amongst the other charities to benefit significantly from this fad – so it seems to me that at least someone is doing it right!

Now you may have your reason(s) for not wanting to support the ALS Association (in my case it’s because they test on animals which I don’t agree with). Then why not donate to a different charity instead? As with any social media craze, the rules aren’t set in stone and I don’t think people should be chastised for wanting to promote another cause which they feel is worth fighting for.

Then there’s those who boycott the challenge from the outset. Because ‘while you get doused in water, African children are dieing of thirst’ (I think we’ve all seen the memes on Facebook). The thing is, by liking/sharing these images, you’re not helping anyone. Why not accept the challenge and promote a charity which aims to improve living conditions in Third World Countries, if this is really a cause you care about? Just a thought. Considering a 5 litre bucket of water (and that’s enough water to get wet) equates to just one average toilet flush. But if you live in a state or country where drought is a real issue, you could simply forgo the wet aspect of the challenge and donate instead.

I personally have opted to make a donation to World Animal Protection, because I wholeheartedly share their vision of ‘a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty has ended’. I am very passionate about this cause because I believe that the fight to protect animals is one of utmost importance, since they cannot speak up or fight for themselves. I would be delighted if I could inspire others to do the same (please click here if you too want to help World Animal Protection continue the exceptional work they do).

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if someone came up with a new social media fad which calls for people to raise money for animal protection? Maybe you have an idea already? Share it with a comment below!

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Prologue: Why Animals Matter To Me

I have been fascinated by animals ever since I can remember. When as a child I was presented with my first camera, you know, before these became digital and there was still actual money involved when deciding to take a photo, this was quickly filled with shots of cute furry things at school trips and family outings to the zoo. My arduously saved pocket money was proudly gifted to the animal charity stand at the local flea market, much to the dismay of my mother who insisted I was pouring my money down the drain. As a teenager, I started feeling anger and resentment at anything I perceived to be unfair treatment of animals. Where others looked away, I couldn’t, instead stopping to point and voice my concerns, often to the annoyance of my partners/parents/friends.

When in 2013 my other half and I left behind our jobs, friends and possessions to embark on a round-the-world trip with the objective not only to discover foreign places and cultures, but also to figure out what it is we want to do with our lives, it soon became apparent to me that animal welfare is unquestionably the single issue which I am most passionate about, a cause I wholeheartedly support and believe in; and that I want to dedicate at least a small part of my life to helping ensure that animals around the world are treated with the respect and compassion they deserve. Animal Matters is to serve as the first space for me to share my thoughts, opinions and ideas on this topic with others, in an attempt to help move the world to protect animals – which is also the motto of my favourite charity World Animal Protection (formerly knows as WSPA), whose vision is

A world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty has ended

In addition to creating this blog, I have also set up a JustGiving Page, as I would like to appeal for people to take action by donating to World Animal Protection so they can continue the fantastic work they do (read about their current campaigns on their website here).

Please follow Animal Matters if you would like to find out what I do in an attempt to move the world to protect animals (future stories will include a report of my visit to a free-range meat producer and an image-heavy post about my time spent volunteering at an animal sanctuary in North Queensland, Australia).