The condition of stray dogs has always been pitiful in Nepal. They are kicked, beaten, and sometimes even run over by heavy vehicles. And, time and again, there have been cases where the community or the government has even put them to sleep. And on the exact opposite end of this spectrum are the dogs of “good breed” that most Nepali households buy for thousands of rupees. While a lot of organizations and initiations to help street dogs have started in the past few years, the condition of the stray dogs hasn’t really changed that much.
Sujit Magar, owner of Dancing Yak, a restaurant in Thamel, Kathmandu, thinks the first step to improve the living conditions of these helpless creatures is to encourage people to be a little kinder towards them. Magar, who is a dog lover himself, claims that unless people stop believing in the breeding hierarchy of dogs, nothing regarding how they are treated will change. He says, “There are thousands of dogs in our country suffering this cruel fate and although the hard work non-profit organizations and shelters put in is admirable, there is only so much they can do.”
But Magar wasn’t one to keep quiet about the brutal atrocities stray dogs usually face. Magar’s attempt at tackling this problem was to launch Project FADE. The primary objective of this initiative lies in its name FADE which stands for Feed A Dog Everyday. He reveals that although he has always wanted to open something like a dog shelter, it was only about seven months ago that the concept of Project FADE occurred to him. Magar, who previously lived in the US with his father, was taking care of their family business and a boxer there. It has only been a year since he moved to Nepal. The situation of street dogs here instantly got to him and he started thinking of ways in which he could help them.
A few months later, he discussed the idea of feeding dogs everyday with his friend, Sydney Gurung, and the two of them started working on designing the concept and logistics of Project FADE straight away. “What I have noticed about people is that they can’t stick to resolutions and most of them shy away from making it in the first place. To also combat this mindset people have about resolutions, I gave this project an assertive and purposeful name,” he states.
He further adds that going around town looking for a dog to feed might seem daunting and time consuming to most people. But he reveals that it is not as difficult as it seems and that he hasn’t skipped doing so ever since he started Project FADE. “All it takes a little bit of dedication and the willingness to make a difference,” he says.
Project FADE was launched late September this year and is slowly gaining momentum among the young Nepali crowd. Part of the reason for this might be because Magar has roped in some big names to promote his cause. Singer Nattu Shah was named the ambassador and the official face for the initiative. Other celebrities like Paramita RL Shah who is known as someone who loves animals has also promoted Project Fade on different instances.
Project FADE’s official Instagram account is also updated on a regular basis and is constantly connecting with their followers. Magar uploads stories everyday showing him feeding dogs and has also created a hashtag for everyone who wants to be involved with this project. Occasionally, Project FADE also uploads pictures and videos sent in by their followers that shows them feeding and taking care of dogs.
“Helping a dog could be something as simple as patting their head and showing them affection but a lot of people are grossed out by the prospect of touching a street dog,” reveals Magar. He states that since dogs are very sensitive even the slightest bit of affection you show them will mean a lot to them. So, his purpose behind uploading videos and pictures of (himself or other people) feeding and petting street dogs is to encourage more people to do the same. “Buying a packet of biscuit that costs Rs 10 and feeding that to a dog on the streets is not that big of a deal and anyone can do that,” he says adding that a little bit of compassion and care along with giving them food would add value to your act.
Magar admits that, for the time being, Project FADE’s operations and impacts are low-key at the moment. But he mentions that he has bigger plans in the pipeline. Actually, he has a 10-year plan sketched out for it and wants to turn this little project to an organization that can actually create an impact and change the situation of street dogs in Nepal for the better. Magar also mentions that he wants to open a dog shelter when he feels ready for it later in life. And, as far as the immediate future is concerned, Project FADE is thinking of coming up with a range of T-shirts that they can sell to generate funds to feed and care for more street dogs.