Amala Akkineni, the founder of Blue Cross Hyderabad, a non-government organisation, wishes there are more than 24 hours in a day. Though Blue Cross takes away most of her time she is also actively involved with various organisations fighting a wide spectrum of issues like HIV, widow empowerment, Bala Vikas, orphanage education, among others. At the moment she is working with 16 different organisations, which work towards one basic cause — promoting communal harmony and making the world a better place to live in.
Married to Telugu actor Akkineni Nagarjuna, Amala made her debut in a Tamil film “Mythili Yennai Kadali”. It was during one of the movies that she met actor Nagarjuna, fell in love and got married.
After marriage Amala shifted to Hyderabad in 1992. An animal lover, she was greatly appalled when she came across injured animals and had to contact Blue Cross, Chennai, for help every time as there was no provision in Hyderabad. This disturbed her to a large extent and she went about getting the injured animals home. Very soon her house got filled with dogs, mongoose, cats, buffalo and birds.
It was then that her husband, Nagarjuna, suggested that she take up the issue seriously. Soon Blue Cross, Hyderabad, was registered.
“All animals are sentient beings. And whether they are domestic or wild, used in science, sport, the production of food, entertainment or any other field; they deserve freedom from cruelty” is Blue Cross' belief. “It's been 18 years and we have rescued around 3,68,000 animals. We have around 500 animals in our shelter in Hyderabad at the moment,” says Amala.
“She is a mother for all the animals and the staff,” says Kumari, shelter manager, Blue Cross.
The animal welfare projects of Blue Cross are focused to benefit the stray (or wild) animals and birds of all species, rescued from the street, homeless, abused, sick and dying or just in need of help. The services are: Animal rescue, treatment and shelter, prevention of cruelty, sterilisation and vaccination of stray dogs and cats, adoption of puppies, kittens and abandoned pets, rehabilitation of rescued wildlife, veterinary camps, and a mobile veterinary clinic for working equines.
Blue Cross members liaise with Government departments to improve animal welfare. They inspect and supervise laboratories conducting animal experimentation, providing valuable expertise and guidance concerning animal welfare. Blue Cross inspects, trains and monitors animal welfare organisations in Andhra Pradesh on behalf of the Animal Welfare Board of India. Blue Cross organises and conducts relief work during natural calamities. Its mobile team treats working horses, mules, donkeys and ponies in and around the twin cities.
“Initially a lot of push was needed, it required a lot of hard work to get government and municipality sanctions. But my family and friends supported me in a big way, helping me overcome whatever came in the way,” opines Amala.
People trickle in all day. Some come with injured stray dogs, others to borrow a pup for adoption. It is a hectic day for the veterinary doctors here who work with zeal and passion for animals.
This enthusiasm is also seen with workers here feeding animals and nursing them.
“Amala is a role model for all of us and knows how to run a welfare association efficiently,” says Dr. Pushkin, the veterinary doctor at Blue Cross.
“She is one of the most compassionate persons I have ever come across. She has made a difference not just for animals but in all our lives,” states Aparna Rao, treasurer, Blue Cross.
If taking care of the injured animals is one facet of her work, the other area she works on is towards bringing about social awareness towards animals.
Amala conducts training sessions in various places as well, such as the recent two-day session on animal welfare at the AP Police Academy where she addressed 70 DSPs.
The Blue Cross has a Junior Club movement to encourage animal welfare among children.
Yes the journey has had challenges. “The general tendency is to want everything tailor-made but this does not work. Unless you feel the pinch you won't give your hundred per cent. One needs to initiate, take the first step and involve single-mindedly. And there is a lot to do in terms of animal welfare. I would appeal to all to be a part of this endeavour,” she signs off.