Successful 3rd Annual Workshop on Sustainable Advocacy

On June 6th, key members of animal groups from all over China gathered in Shenzhen to take part in a three day workshop by ACTAsia entitled ‘Developing Effective Animals Advocates in China’. The two major themes of this workshop were Project Management and Companion Animal issues.

ACTAsia selected participants based on our experiences with them and a detailed questionnaire, and we tailored the contents of the workshop according to their needs and level of understanding.

Project management

Animal protectionists often run into a lot of problems because they don’t know how to view any of their work as projects – they are always working, but it’s difficult for them to get any satisfaction about their achievements, or to improve their work by planning and evaluating it.

We therefore provided participants with the basic knowledge and tools to plan a project, including how to set goals and objectives, define deliverables, prepare a budget, plan activities and evaluate their work.

Shuai Zhang, Beijing Raptor Center, IFAW comments: “We have never had project management training before, and I feel I have learned a lot from this workshop. A good project plan with clear goals, objectives and steps can help us to conduct our project and modify our work when the circumstances change. Without a proper plan, it will limit our action and it is likely we often cannot finish the tasks within the time and it often causes frustration”

Companion animals

Many of the animal protectionists in China are working on problems related to the treatment of companion animals like dogs and cats. To gain insight into the causes and complexity of over population problems,and to make their work more effective, we addressed companion animals issues in great detail. Topics included humane stray dog management, companion animal behaviour, the concept of animal sentience, shelter management, neutering, adoption strategy, laws and regulations, and public education.

 

In the last part of the workshop, the project management training was united with the companion animal training when participants put their newly acquired management tools into practice by creating an outline project plan for their current companion animal work.

We were very fortunate to have Joy Leney – expert on companion animal issues worldwide- strengthen our team of facilitators. Joy: “I was greatly impressed by the thoroughness of ACTAsia’s workshop, and the contributions of the participants. I’m convinced that ACTAsia’s approach in building the animal welfare movement in China is the right way to go in helping animals most effectively”.

Animal protectionists’ self care

In our last two annual workshops we addressed the individual well being of animal protectionists, to ensure that the Chinese animal movement doesn’t lose its biggest asset: enthusiastic and talented people. Following up on this issue, we held a session to allow everyone to share their positive changes since last year.

Xu Cheng Xin from Chang Sha Small Animal Protection Society said, “I learnt it is important to share our challenges and problems with someone I can trust. This is a good way to help us to relieve the tremendous pressure we are facing at our work.”

‘Work’-shop

There was great emphasis during this workshop on self activity and interaction between participants and facilitators. Practical exercises in small groups, quizzes, role-playing and group discussions were incorporated in the sessions, which led to lively debates and stimulated critical thinking.

Limeng Feng said: “All the practical exercises made everyone communicate more with each other, and further developed the things we had learned. I wish it could have been longer”. The workshop also resulted in a Ten Point Plan which can serve as a template for stray animal welfare and management in China. This plan shows the various elements which need to be changed in order to deal with the problem of the current companion animal over population problem in China.

Both facilitators and participants can look back on a very fruitful workshop, where new working relationships and methods were established. We thank our sponsors (HSI, One Voice, Best Friends International and Refuge de Thiernay) and co-organiser Alliance for Animals in China for making this workshop possible.