As many readers will be aware, Ann and Alan Kennedy have retired from the Board of ARK (Animal Rescue Kusadasi). Ann has been the charity’s President since its formation in 2018, creating the well-known and well-respected organisation we know today. I’m aware that there have certainly been some challenging times in those six years, including sometimes having to worry about whether income would cover expenditure and desperately trying to avoid ever having to turn away a sick animal. With lots of hard work, imagination and commitment that was thankfully avoided and thousands of Kusadasi’s street animals (often in life or death situations) were helped by ARK.
I initially became involved in ARK as a supporter and joined the ARK Committee in 2022, before becoming Vice-President in early 2023. I’ve been a lifelong supporter of many animal charities and soon became absorbed in ARK’s mission. I first came to Turkey thirty years ago and was shocked by the number of street animals and the challenges they faced. Though many were lucky to be helped by kind human beings, most didn’t have a regular food supply or shelter, were constantly reproducing and had nowhere to turn when they were sick or injured. The animals in the more rural parts of Kusadasi were in an even worse position than those in built-up areas. It was in this space that ARK (and its fellow charity Paws & Claws) were born.
The situation in recent years has much improved, not least due to the Belediye’s investment in its animal shelter (the Barinak), the purchasing of two animal ambulances and the recent creation of a cat neutering centre in the Marina area, which was equipped by a donation from ARK. Omer Gunel, Mayor of Kusadasi, clearly understands the importance of caring for street animals and is keen to have regular dialogue with ARK, following our initial meeting with him a few months ago.
However, there’s still lots to do. Street animals are the norm in Turkey and will always need help. Unlike in most European countries, homeless animals aren’t euthanised when homes can’t be found for them and the volume of them is clearly more than can be handled by the Municipality alone. Mass neutering is essential, feeding and shelter (particularly in winter) will always be a challenge, and animals’ illness and injuries will always present challenges.
As a result of Ann and Alan’s retirement, an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of ARK members was held on Saturday 20 January, at which the main business was to elect a new Board and Committee members – all voluntary positions. I’m very privileged to have been elected as President and will do my utmost to ensure that ARK survives and thrives. My fellow Board and Committee members are an extremely committed group, with lots of ideas. We had our first meeting directly after the EGM and we’re meeting again very soon to develop our future plans. The new team is follows:
Fisun Parsons – Board member & Vice-President
Jane Moulding – Board member & Secretary/Vet Liaison
Mary Sayers – Board member & Treasurer
Shawn Parsons – Board member and IT/Donor Relations
As I’ve found since becoming involved in ARK, forming and running such an organisation (a ‘dernek’) is extremely demanding in Turkey, possibly more so than in the UK which I’m used to. A particular challenge is attracting (and retaining) 16 people to be members of the Committee, each of whom is required to be checked and approved by the District Governor’s Office. Of these, 5 are elected to the Board and are the ones who are legally responsible and accountable for the organisation’s affairs. Five other members of the Committee are required to oversee the Board members and another three members of the Committee are appointed to be internal auditors, being required to produce reports annually, in addition to which the District Governor’s Office conducts audits. Accountability and legal compliance are the order of the day, which is entirely appropriate, though means there’s always lots to do and lots to learn!
I look forward to working alongside my fellow ARK Committee members (and other active supporters) and to making an even bigger difference to the lives of our street animals. We’ll definitely be producing regular reports and thank Ege Eye for publishing them. Onwards and upwards!