The moment I entered the abode of Mr. Francis Pereira, at Bendore, I knew that I was in an ethereal place. The pleasant sound of birds chirping as they perched all over his garden, little squirrels running around his gate and the sight of two dogs lazing around in the front yard, made me halt at the entrance for a while and gaze all around with sheer amazement.
Over a candid talk with Mr. Francis Pereira, I learnt about true heroes. Mr. Pereira may not be well known but the amount of donations that he has made and the faith he has in charity made me wonder as to how a man with such limited means canbe so caring and giving in this selfish world.
Mr. Pereira tells me that it all started in his childhood and went on to say that it was his mother’s love for animals that made him closer to them. It was her that taught him to love unconditionally. And hence, even though he had a difficult upbringing he made sure that he does whatever he has to do for these animals, especially the abandoned ones.
Mr. Pereira told me, “Stray dogs were always my greatest concern. Earlier, there were times when I couldn’t do anything to treat them and hence they died. But I did whatever I could to make them live a better life. During this expedition of mine I met Suma Nayak –who was qualified and had a modern outlook to the issues of stray animals in the city. She then introduced me to Gopal Krishna Baligaand the three of us took the initiative to take care of these animals.
“Initially, when we found dogs or cows on the road we brought them here, to my house, gave them treatment and later we used to donate them or (in the case of cows) give them to a gowshale”, he said and added that after sometime, due to some family and property issues he, along with the entire Animal Care Trust (ACT) team shifted to the Shaktinagar address, with the help of Mr. Ganesh Pai.
“Even after we shifted I kept on donating and working for the welfare of these animals. Every year, I gave around Rs. 10,000 to the trust. I provided funds for the staff quarters and other such amenities so that ACT grows”, said Mr. Pereira.
However, the helping hand is not only limited only to ACT. He also donated around Rs 4 lakhs in the year 1998 for the Father Muller’s Cancer ward. An emotional Pereira said, “I have never told anyone this and it has nothing to do with my donation. When I donated the money I gave it with a good heart. But my wife got detected with cancer few years ago.” After gaining composure, Pereira went on to say that she is fine now and that it is more than a miracle to them.
He then narrated to me his love for animals and how this love grew with time. How he gave importance to being humane and kept helping everyone irrespective of their attitude towards him. Pereira also said that there were times when people cheated of his money but that didn’t stop him from giving whether it was money or love. Be it for humans, animals, trees or for the environment.
Pereira has built a small forest in his backyard and he also treats all the waste that is produced in the house. He never went to college or received a degree, but his outlook towards life and environment made me think. His simple living and his approach towards life and his responsibilities as a human being is very rarely seen in these competitive times.
Pereira concluded, saying that the world is meaner today and all cannot be the same. “I earn well even till this day, of course I have incurred few losses in my life but that should not let me down and stop me from doing good, because everyone cannot be the same.”
Now as it was time for me to bid adieu, I was more than happy that I had made a good friend in Mr. Pereira and also his dogs Chinki, Laila, Blacky and Dinky who all seemed to have become all too attached to me. What is interesting and a sight to behold is the way the dogs sit on his bike, one in front (on the petrol tank) and one pillion, as he moves around the city. They enjoy the scooter ride, even perhaps more than I do.
It was a great day. A day of learning and fun. While I learnt about the value of selfless giving and finding satisfaction in doing so, it made me happy to learn that in a world that seems to be functioning on need and wants, there are people like Mr. Francis Pereira, who still believe in living for the purpose of giving, for whom animals are friends who need to be connected, rather than foes who need to be controlled. "Animals teach us to love, care and give" he says.
(Few Photos are from Mr. Pereira's Facebook Profile)
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