FEATURED ON: https://vetezi.in/
Meet Sarah Freeman, founder of Mama Paka in Zanzibar. Zanzibar lies 22 miles (35 km) off the coast of east-central Africa and the main island in the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar. Stone Town, where Sarah Freeman lives, is part of Zanzibar City, the largest city on the island.
Sarah founded Mama Paka, Tanzania’s first ever dedicated kitten nursery, in June 2021, as there was a need on the island to provide care for neonatal and critically ill kittens. Stone Town is fortunate to have a specialist cat clinic (Paka Clinic), but they do not have the equipment or resources to care for neonatal kittens. Their only option, before Sarah set up her nursery, was euthanasia.
Setting up Mama Paka was challenging. Cages, equipment and supplies all need to be imported. Currently, Sarah relies on people travelling to Zanzibar to bring supplies in their suitcases.
Sarah now works with Dr Goodluck at Paka Clinic, to care for the kittens that previously would not have survived. To date, she has helped 62 kittens requiring specialist, round the clock, critical care, for gastrointestinal issues, anorexia, ocular infections and/or upper respiratory infections. Calicivirus is her biggest challenge, along with panleukopenia and ringworm. Of the 62 kittens she has helped, only six have died.
Currently, Sarah is caring for 25 cats, a mixture of neonatal kittens, medical cases, healthy, older kittens that were treated at the nursery and a couple of street cats that come and go. Almost all the cats are under 1 year old. Where possible, she returns kittens to managed colonies but most of them are with her from such a young age and for such long periods of time, that return is not feasible. She struggles with adoptions and is working on a project to try to resolve this.
Sarah understands that prevention is better than treatment. When resources allow, colony management will be one of her main activities to reduce the number of kittens being born and to improve the overall health of Stone Town’s colonies. Sarah’s vision is a Zanzibar where community cats can live free from disease, suffering and overpopulation and in harmony with the communities who care for them. She understands that in order to do that, Mama Paka has to be a hub for Zanzibar’s street cat programmes, to support communities, provide access to food, shelter, healthcare and, critically, neutering to stop the cycle of kittens and unnecessary suffering.
Like so many people working around the world, Sarah is a one-woman team, although she does have the support of several foster families and a community of cat caregivers in Stone Town, together with a volunteer in the Isle of Wight who fundraises for supplies and ships them over. One of her aims is to collaborate with the other two animal projects in Zanzibar to coordinate funding proposals. Sarah is currently organising her second mass TNR campaign, which will take place later this month, with other local animal organisations, the Government of Zanzibar and the Foundation for Veterinary Aid International (FAVI), a Canadian vet organisation. It includes a huge community outreach campaign too.
Sarah awaits her NGO license, which will mean she can start advertising for volunteers and begin fundraising more publicly. If you want to support Sarah or follow her progress, see:
Fundraising page: gofundme.com/f/mama-paka-zanzibar