'6,064 miles away and dedicated': Pair swapped Romford for Cambodia to run animal sanctuary
- Credit: Animals of our World
From Romford to Siem Reap, a former Rush Green student and her partner’s "trip of a lifetime” has turned into a “lifetime mission” as they strive to prevent animal suffering in Cambodia.
Georgia Kaczorowski, 27, and Billy Gene, 29, founded Animals of our World in 2017 after heading off on a backpacking trip around south east Asia.
It was “never the plan”, Georgia said, that the pair would set up the UK-registered charity after various encounters with animals needing help during their travels.
This included rehoming a cat in Laos and rescuing a rhesus macaque monkey they found in Luang Prabang.
The latter episode saw them going so far as to pay for an enclosure in which to house the monkey, plus any future wildlife.
It was upon reaching Siem Reap in Cambodia that Georgia says they were “overwhelmed” by what they saw.
And so it was here they decided to establish House of Strays, a sanctuary where they rehabilitate animals on-site and provide a home for animals in need.
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The sanctuary is currently hosting 108 rescues - 65 dogs, 42 cats and one chicken.
Georgia says her journey into looking after animals started when she turned vegan at 21, something which was sparked by her relationship with her dog Harley Rae.
"The connection I have with him was like no other,” she said. “How could I eat animals when I say I love them? How could I be angry that countries like Cambodia eat dogs? I was a hypocrite. The biggest realisation of my life came from that and ultimately led me on this journey.
“Animals Of Our World became our world due to the circumstances we found ourselves in.”
She adds that being on the other side of the world to their families has been hard, but that such responsibility comes with the decision they made.
Georgia said: “My family are extremely supportive of my decision and understand why I have done what I have. We miss a lot of important moments in our families' lives by being here.
“Before I went travelling, I was a carer for my sister who suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was 19. She is now having a baby and it's so hard to not be there through that. We are best friends.
“My family are now a very big part of the organisation and have helped me get through extremely difficult times.”
In addition to the separation from her family, Georgia said the nature of her work means it can, at times, be a “living nightmare”.
She said: “I understand now that I can change an animal's whole life, but that doesn't mean it will always go that way.
“We rehabilitate the most abused and neglected animals. They always take priority.
“We have been advised to put to sleep nearly half of the animals we've ever rehabilitated. Most of them have made full recoveries. I'm not giving up on them, if they haven't given up themselves.
“Imagine all the people that have walked past that animal before we come across them - they deserve their chance.
“So many people working in this industry are just barely surviving. We give everything to the animals we rescue, and we always come last. This may sound so lovely, but it's actually extremely damaging.”
Having recently moved to a much larger space to house the rescues, Georgia said the focus is now on continuing to garner aid and spread the word of their work.
For those back home, support can be shown in the form of donating towards their mission and sharing their social media posts.
Georgia said: “We’re looking for businesses in the UK who would be happy to put out a donation box on their counter along with some of our informational flyers. We are also open to any kinds of partnerships that UK businesses, charities or animal shelters might have in mind.
“We are living 6,064 miles away from home and dedicating our whole lives to this mission, but we know we cannot do it alone. Receiving our official charity status last year really gave us and our team the boost we needed.
“People mean it when they say this work is not for the faint-hearted. But I've found something in life that I believe in and will fight for.
“We hope you feel as passionate about our mission as we do.”
For updates from Animals of our World, follow the charity's Facebook page.