orphaned HIV

Partner Spotlight | All Creatures Great and Small

Anjali Gopalan 

Managing Trustee | All Creatures Great and Small    
Interviewed By : Heer Shukla

Heer: In the 2000s, you opened the country’s first holistic home for orphaned HIV+ children and women. What inspired you to take this initiative, and how has it impacted the lives of the beneficiaries? 

Anjali Gopalan: The reason this was done was because at that time no one…no institution, government or otherwise, was willing to take care of those living with HIV. Even orphaned children were not being taken into homes. It was so difficult to watch the suffering and marginalisation. So, we decided to respond. Taking care of them is a lifelong commitment. Most of them are working and well settled in life but this will always be their home. All holidays and birthdays are celebrated here and so are festivals. They are well integrated in society and have evolved into being good human beings. There are some children, who will have to live with us permanently as they have physical and mental disabilities.

Heer: What motivated you to start All Creatures Great and Small (ACGS), and how do you see it making a difference in the lives of sick and disabled animals? 

Anjali Gopalan: It’s interesting that I never wanted to start another care facility! I know how difficult it is to run one. So, I started by volunteering at a shelter and was horrified at the way animals were treated. That’s when I decided I had to show that it is possible to create an environment which is caring, loving and safe. Also to make people understand that it is the right of the animal to get the best care possible. 

Heer: Are there specific principles from Dr. Herriot’s work that you consciously incorporate into the mission of ACGS? 

Anjali Gopalan: I was in the 5th grade when my father presented me with Dr. Herriot’s books, and I cried my way through many pages. So, he took those away and said I should read them when I am older. I am so inspired by the way Dr. Herriot thinks about care, and his kindness and love for animals are inspirational. 

Heer: For individuals aspiring to make a difference in human or animal rights, what advice would you give them based on your own experiences? 

Anjali Gopalan: Don’t let the big picture paralyse you. Reach out and touch one life…. human or animal….and you would have made a difference and made this world a kinder and more loving place. 

Heer: How can ordinary individuals contribute to creating a more compassionate and just society? 

Anjali Gopalan: It’s important not to create a divide based on class, caste, or religion. Diversity should be respected.  

Heer: Balancing activism, running organisations, and personal life can be challenging. How do you maintain that balance, and what keeps you motivated? 

Anjali Gopalan: I am so lucky that work does not feel like work. I wake up every morning feeling so blessed that I am able to do what I love, so the motivation and the balance happens automatically!!!