Charitable Choices: Ericka Ceballos of International Aid For Animals Foundation

Ericka Ceballos, Founder and CEO of the International Aid for Animals Foundation (IAFAF), is dedicated to improving the lives of animals and their human companions. Based in New Westminster, BC, IAFAF focuses on supporting under-resourced shelters in Guatemala, providing care for feral animals in Mexico, raising awareness about the illegal wildlife trade, and aiding community rangers in Kenya.

International Aid For Animals Foundation

Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.

Our International Aid for Animals Foundation (IAFAF) motto is: “Help animals in need and their humans”. We are a small, local, and all-volunteer registered charity based in New Westminster, BC.

IAFAF is working to improve the quality of life of two very poor shelters in Guatemala, we are helping two colonies of feral cats (and 2 colonies of opossums) with vaccines, sterilizations, vet care and food in Mexico. With our CITES colleagues of Teyeliz in Mexico, we have a project to create awareness about the illegal trade of parrots and other endangered species in that country and in Canada. We are still collecting waterproof jackets for cats and dogs for the street animals of Cusco, Peru.

In Kenya, we are helping the Mara Loita Community Rangers who are really struggling, with no salaries for over a year, and sometimes not having enough money to get food for their patrols. As part of that project, we are also supporting 600 very poor school girls in 3 schools in isolated areas, by providing them with over 40,000 feminine pads so they can continue to go to school when they have their period, and get to have an education. For this purpose, IAFAF collected donations from the Body Shop, and in Metro Vancouver, we collected donations of much-needed toiletries for hygienic purposes from many kind people. We got over 560-period pouches made by the amazing volunteers of the Queensborough Sewing Club in New Westminster. One amazing volunteer there is making 27 bags with supplies for the rangers, and has already donated a couple of large first-aid kits.

Sadly, our IAFAF volunteers intended to deliver over 200 kilos of donations on May 21st, but due to the devastating floods affecting the area where we were going, plus the security concerns at that time, we had to postpone it until the end of this summer.

What problem does it aim to solve?

We aim to improve the lives of strays and rescued animals in Latin America. We create awareness and education about animal welfare in those countries.

Guatemala: Hopefully we will receive a grant to help sterilize strays in Guatemala, as there are too many cats and dogs which are left to starve and have a miserable life. That will help reduce overpopulation.

Mexico:

1) IAFAF is collaborating with our animal conservation colleagues of TEYELIZ, to create awareness about the illegal trade of endangered parrots and other wildlife in North America.

2) IAFAF improves the quality of lives of stray cats, protecting the very demonized and misunderstood opossum from human cruelty, and providing permanent loving homes to rescued cats in Canada and the US.

Peru: Providing waterproof jackets to street cats and dogs in Cusco, Peru to improve their quality of life in wintertime.

Kenya: IAFAF’s aim is to support the rangers who are risking their lives every day to save endangered animals from poachers. They do their long walk patrols every day, removing snares, catching poachers, planting trees, and so on. They do so much to help their impoverished communities, maintaining also 8 seniors and 12 orphan girls, as well as buying feminine pads for the school girls in those 3 remote schools where we will deliver the period pouches and feminine pads.

Our IAFAF volunteer team also provides environmental education, with an emphasis on helping to reduce global warming due to climate change caused by pollution, by recycling, upcycling, and making crafts to sell from recyclables that end up polluting the earth, water and air to earn some income to help their families, as well teaching them how to make shelters for themselves and their animals with such materials.

When did you start it?

February 2020

What made you want to get involved?

When I visited Cusco, and the Sacred Valley in Peru, after having a couple of presentations in Bolivia for the CITES Latin American Authorities, about the illegal e-commerce of jaguars and other wild felines in Latin America, with my other NGO CATCA Environmental and Wildlife Society (CEWS). It was wintertime, and I saw how the street dogs were shivering and trying to protect themselves from the Andean harsh cold.

I have also seen the poor situation of street cats in Mexico, and knowing the day-by-day struggle of the Mara Loita Comunity Rangers in Kenya, and all the amazing work that they do to help the poor people in their community, all those things inspired me and prompted me to take action.

For this reason, we created IAFAF in 2019, registered it in 2020 and got charity status in 2021.

What was the situation like when you started?

It was positive and we had quite the support, but then the pandemic started just after we registered IAFAF (one week later), so every plan, project and support disappeared.

In 2022, slowly we started to get some support, some donations, and a few volunteers started to get active. Everything was at a snail’s pace, but at least things were moving.

That is the reason why we are behind in delivering donations for our projects, especially with the delivery of waterproof jackets for street dogs and cats in Cusco, Peru.

How has it changed since?

Things are getting more active and donations of items to deliver are more steady, so now it is easier for us to deliver donations than before.

Since the end of 2022, we have sent with Canadian Volunteers donations to Guatemala, and at the end of 2023, we delivered over 120 kilos of much-needed donations for two very poor animal shelters there.

We are ready to deliver over 200 kilos of toiletries and school items, 40,000 feminine pads for poor school girls, as well donations for rangers in Kenya, but due that we had to postpone the trip due to the floods that devastated the area where we are going, we are still collecting toiletries and raising funds, to buy items that they urgently require in Kenya, to deliver for them in person, such as food for their patrols. IAFAF would like to buy one second-hand motorbike in Kenya to donate to the rangers, as they lost their only vehicle a few months ago.

International Aid For Animals Foundation

What more needs to be done?

A lot more. This kind of volunteer work relies on the kindness of people and businesses to work.

Without the public support, we would not be able to achieve anything. We are thankful to all the local businesses supporting us.

If any of the readers has a local business and would like to sponsor our work, please send us an email.

We invite you all to check this link to see who are our kind sponsors.

Schools, universities, companies, groups of people, etc. Anyone can team up to help us get much-needed donations of items for our projects, or by creating a fundraiser for our charity. We really need enthusiastic, energetic and creative people to support us now more than ever. Interested? Please send us an email!

How can our readers help?

IAFAF always needs the help of enthusiastic volunteers, to help us pack donations to deliver abroad, to help us collect donations, to help us during events, and to search for information on businesses that our IAFAF team could reach to request specific items needed to deliver abroad.

We also need Canadian volunteers that love to travel, to help us deliver donations for our IAFAF projects abroad.

You all can help us from your own home, or by donating on our website, to be able to continue with our charity work abroad. (For every $25.00 CAD donated or more we will send you a tax receipt). You can donate at this link. We have this fundraiser for our Kenyan project.

We also need more donations of waterproof jackets. Can you get us some used or new waterproof jackets?. Send us an email, please.
IAFAF takes donations in cash, in-kind, and legacy donations.

Now we need donations of air miles and air points, to help us take those donations where they are needed the most. We are taking donations of KLM and Miles and More air miles, and Air Canada points to help us deliver donations abroad.

Do you have any events coming up?

We will need to organize more donations of items for Kenya. Have new small toiletries to donate? Contact us!

Our team plans to launch a fundraiser event in August. Please, follow us on social media for news and updates.

We invite you to check our e-magazine “Callejeritos” first 3 editions.

Where can we follow you?

Website | Instagram | Facebook

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?

Douglas Kerr at Tech For All Society. This is another registered charity from New West.

 

About Emilea Semancik 155 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to work as a freelance writer and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. Taking influence from journalism culture surrounding the great and late Anthony Bourdain, she is a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of books. You can find her food blog on Instagram: