In five years of travelling and volunteering, Tenerife Horse Rescue is the first sustainable project I have revisited, and I am astounded at the transformation! In April 2019, the animal sanctuary was operating with the basics. We had running water and tools, a few horses and a great vision for the future. Now, one and a half years later, I can appreciate how far the project has developed. Five volunteers have become twenty, many of whom are living here long-term. Before we were small enough for the whole team to work on projects together, now there are different teams and specific roles.
I have mainly been involved with the building and construction, making natural stonewalls, a pool for water filtration, an enclosure for the horses and foundations for the yurt tent. Now I can see my work put to use. The new gardening team has used the filtered greywater to feed the garden, the arid desert land is slowly transforming into a green utopia with vegetables and plants surrounding the horse paddocks. The stonewalls have been expanded and built around, new techniques have been used with glass bottles and mud plaster. I am now helping to build a cool house for food storage. We specifically designed it with airflow and chicken wire in the walls to keep out the rodents.
The food situation has improved since my last visit. The project relies on donations from the bakery and now a local supermarket supplies us with their surplus food twice a week. We are currently negotiating for another supermarket to help in the same way. It takes a lot of food to feed twenty volunteers and hundreds of animals, so it is impressive that we live off of the waste food that would otherwise be thrown into the bins. The kitchen has been built on-site in the last year. One of the volunteers prepares breakfast and lunch every working day and on Thursday evenings there is a communal meal. I prefer this style of eating and sharing together in a community.
At a sustainable project it's very important to have renewable energy. Solar panels provide electricity and WiFi to the site, luxuries that were not available on my last visit, as well as a functioning toilet and shower! I was sleeping in a tent before and now I have a bed outside in a canyon, beneath the stars. There are many new structures and cave houses built by volunteers. They have decorated some rooms with recycled furniture from the weekly fea market. The project is clearly growing and creating a home for many people and animals alike. It is exciting to play a small part in this development. We are sharing our story through social platforms, experimenting with a YouTube reality series and even featuring on TV shows. We have an ambitious vision of expansion and hope to rescue more horses and animals in the coming years if we can raise money to secure a larger area of land.
In my experience, I found that volunteering is the most meaningful way of travelling. Especially when it is a sustainable project. It is an exchange of your time and skills, to help someone else while learning. You temporarily become a local and perhaps experience a place in ways that aren’t accessible to tourists. There is a balance between work and play. The working hours at the horse rescue are from 8:30-14:00 Monday to Friday, this gives ample time for enjoying the beautiful surroundings of Tenerife in the evenings and weekends. It is the perfect environment for animal and nature lovers, close to the mountains and the ocean. There is an opportunity to hike, horse ride, surf, climb, or just play and cuddle with the animals!
Currently we want to buy more land to expand our finca to help out more animals. You can help this cause by donating!