gita and her owner
gita and her owner

Gita weathers a dangerous storm

When a devastating cyclone struck the Indian state of Odisha, thousands of working animals were left without food or shelter. Exposed to the elements, Gita the foal developed a serious chest infection that her owners were unable to treat. Read about SPANA’s work in emergencies and how help came just in time for this young animal.

gita and her owner in a field

Sumanti and her husband had little time to prepare before the full force of the cyclone hit their small village. Battling gale force winds, they worked quickly to lead their horse and cows to the shelter of a small stone barn. Sumanti’s foal, named Gita, was nervous and Sumanti did her best to calm the animal before running inside to shelter from the storm. But Sumanti was worried – the couple depend heavily on Gita for their survival, using the horse to help farm and transport produce to market. To lose her would spell financial ruin for the family.

For two days, 20-year-old Sumanti, her husband and their new born child braced themselves against the impact of the storm that destroyed homes, killed livestock and flooded crops across the region. When the winds finally subsided, Sumanti’s first priority was to check on her animals and she anxiously stepped outside to survey the damage. The devastation caused by the storm was shocking – the crops were completely flooded and most of the farm equipment had been destroyed. But the worst damage was to the stable. As Sumanti approached, she saw that the roof had caved in, killing one of the family’s three cows.

Luckily, Gita had survived, although she was soaking wet and shaking with fear. Despite Sumanti’s best efforts to dry and calm the animal, Gita soon developed a fever and rasping cough. She was lethargic and growing weaker by the day. To make matters worse, severe flooding had destroyed the animal feed stocks and contaminated the drinking water.

The young couple were beside themselves; they couldn’t afford the cost of the treatment that Gita so desperately needed. Without assistance, Gita might die and the family would be plunged in to poverty with no means of supporting themselves. Time was running out and Sumanti knew she needed to find help.

Within hours of the cyclone, SPANA was on the ground to provide support to thousands of working animals in the hardest-hit communities. Sumanti’s neighbour suggested that she contact SPANA immediately, while there was still a chance to save Gita. Despite the vast distances that our team travels, SPANA arrived that same day to help.

gita and her owner with another man

As Gita had been exposed to the elements during the storm, her immune system was compromised and she developed a respiratory infection. The team prescribed anti-inflammatories to help ease Gita’s discomfort, as well as antibiotics to fight the secondary bacterial infection. As the family couldn’t afford to replace the damaged feed, SPANA provided nutritious feed and clean drinking water for the animals until the flooding had subsided. The team also rebuilt the damaged shelter to keep Gita safe and dry while she rested. Within two weeks, Gita had regained her strength and was on the road to a full recovery.

As for many communities in this region, it will take a long time to bounce back from the impact of this cyclone. However, thanks to SPANA’s intervention, thousands of animals like Gita have been saved from suffering and possible death. With your support, SPANA is reaching even more working animals and owners hardest hit by natural disaster and conflict all over the world.

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