Love Heal Animals Charity is born!

Hi. My name is Cilla Raphael and I am one of the founding partners of Love Heal Animals, along with Jacqui Thackeray and Vanessa Larsen. We are a registered ‘not for profit’ charity based in Australia.

We have always been very passionate about animals and as a result (with several factors thrown in) our ‘Love Heal Animals’ Charity was born.

I had always dreamt about opening an Animal Charity, and having lived in Hong Kong for 20 years, I knew in my heart that someday I would have the capacity to help animals in Asia.

Two years ago, I was visiting the Gili Islands. I was there to complete my Yoga Teacher Training and became very distracted as I witnessed the poor state of the working ponies.

As a result, during my stay I ended up spending every spare moment either researching online, or biking round the island taking photos of the ponies and realising their situation first hand. I also spoke to local business owners on Gili T.  about the state of the ponies and how we could help.

What I saw was extremely upsetting - unfortunately, these working horses were and are subjected to widespread and severe welfare problems and huge suffering; I realised that these animals were in urgent need of physical and emotional healing and help. 

I saw horses and ponies that were emaciated, many of them diseased or injured and in need of veterinary attention. There were no Veterinarians living on the islands. In addition, their hooves and feet were in poor condition and not cared for as there were no trained farriers.

The ponies were being given minimal salt water to drink, usually only mixed into their feed, with a small percentage also getting access to buckets of water at specified times. They were being fed insufficient food with very little nutritional value.

Many of the ponies had inadequate or no shelter, their stables filthy, with little or no bedding, and many of the ponies could not even lie down as they were tied up with short ropes and were standing in their own excrement. Some of the horses were simply tied to trees or poles as a result of a lack of stabling available. As a result, I saw horses that were exhausted from not having the appropriate rest that they so desperately needed.

Ponies were working long shifts around the clock in stifling and humid heat carting tourists, luggage, rubbish, and construction materials all over the islands. Unfortunately for these poor animals, their carriages were massively overloaded, their harnesses and bits were ill-fitting, and I witnessed many of them being beaten with whips to keep them moving. 

The horses that carried construction materials and rubbish were in even worse condition. I found out from my discussions that during peak tourist season these rubbish ponies’ cart around 20 tonnes of rubbish between 10-12 ponies per day!

Unfortunately, it is a sad fact that the owners and drivers ensure tourists mainly see the healthier animals. The ponies working on the islands live on average for only a few years, as compared to the usual twenty-five years for a healthy horse or pony. 

Due to a lack of education, the horses’ owners and drivers do not know how to look after them and don't care or understand about these ponies’ well-being. They use them to earn as much money as possible while they are able. It is cheaper for them to let the ponies slowly die of dehydration, exhaustion, and disease - or sell them for horse meat! - and then buy new animals to replace them than it is to care for the existing ponies.

Seeing these poor animals - I became obsessed and determined to find a way to help them. The dream to open a charity to help animals in crisis was born.

'Healing Gili Ponies' became Love Heal Animals first project!