"Compassion Fatigue is a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper."
I wanted to update you sooner about my recent trip to Puerto Rico, but I've been experiencing Compassion Fatigue of my own, after spending five grueling days working to save pigs. The situation there has become dire and at times I felt completely overwhelmed believing I wouldn't be able to make a difference. Just with the sheer number of pigs walking the streets, the lack of concern from the residents, the lack of support from the local government, and the lack of donations coming in, made me think I had bitten off way more than WUFAW could chew.
I'd like to share a story with you that truly had me questioning my abilities. I received a text about a pig lying on the side of the road, so the girls and I went to check it out. Not only did we find the piggy, but we found a second one lying on the other side of the corner. Both had been hit by a car and neither were able to walk. Clearly having been there a couple of days, they were laying in pools of their own urine and covered in hundreds of ant bites.
We lifted the two large males into the back of the truck and rushed to the Emergency Vet, praying they could be saved. The girls sat in the back of the pick-up with them, showing them kindness and affection for the first time in their unfortunate lives. Gently rubbing them and whispering in their ears how much they were loved. Unfortunately, when we arrived the vet informed us that he could not treat the pigs since they were not "pets". He also believed that they were too far-gone to help. So we mournfully said goodbye to our boys through sobs and tears. Then waited for them to be at peace, naming them George (https://youtu.be/iT2cR4gkWV8) and Luke (https://youtu.be/x4wIGrBskog) . (click on their names to see their rescue)
Seeing those boys suffer on a street, alone and scared, while car after car passed and did nothing, BROKE ME. I suddenly felt like a fool, like I wasn't as strong as I thought, having failed everyone, especially the piggies. In that moment I wanted to give up on the whole thing and just walk away. Fearing that the problem was far too great for our grassroots foundation to fix.
Yet, here were these amazing volunteers, students from the local college and 5 women who flew in from all over, looking at me to lead. They truly believed in what we were doing and were committed to the cause. Quickly reminding me that this wasn't about me or my feelings. Knowing that nothing ever changes by quitting, I just needed to adjust my way of thinking. To say, "I will do what I can and not more than I can handle. I will keep getting back up and continue to fight for as long as it takes."
So I ask you to please keep supporting us and our work. We are going to need an army of people, resources and supplies for us to have a profound impact on the lives of these pigs.
Thank you so much - Valarie