A few weeks ago, while I was running around at work, one of my vet nurses put a phone call on hold and asked me if it was okay for her to give out my email address to the caller associated with IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare). I wasn’t really familiar with that group and we weren’t sure what it was regarding but I told her it should be fine.
I arrived home pretty late that evening and started going through my emails. My attention gravitated to the IFAW email. I was suddenly struck with curiosity and quickly clicked on it.
As I started to read and understood the impact of the content, I crumbled into an emotional mess and tears instantly trickled down my cheeks. I was flabbergasted to say the least.
This is an excerpt from the email:
“I am writing to you in regard to IFAW’s annual Animal Action awards. Each year IFAW recognizes the work done by outstanding individuals and groups to improve the lives of the animals they love by hosting these special awards. It gives me great pleasure to inform you that you were nominated for IFAW’s Online Animal Action as part of these awards, and that you have won this category!”
I was one of the ten winners that had been chosen from Australia–wide nominations from friends, family and work colleagues of people who do exceptional work to benefit wild or domestic animals.
Here is a picture of all the award recipients:
I was invited to receive my award officially at Customs House in Sydney only 6 days later. It was pretty short notice and I was petrified I wouldn’t be able to go because of work commitments. Thankfully my bosses were very supportive and gave me a day off to hop on a plane and fly to Sydney in the middle of a very busy schedule.
On the 21st of November 2012, I attended the IFAW Australian Animal Action Award Ceremony and I felt very privileged to be amongst so many people with a great passion for animal welfare.
Isabel McCrea, the director of IFAW Australia, made a terrific opening speech about the event and updated us all about IFAW’s global achievements in animal welfare in 2012 with the aid of images. I was quite impressed with all the work they do and their amazing dedication to promote animal welfare in the field and in the legislation. She then gave each and every IFAW Action Animal Award Winner a great introduction and presented them with their Award and gave them an opportunity to make a speech.
Me proudly posing for the photographer
During that time, I was captivated with the achievements of all the fellow award winners and was mostly touched by Daniel & William Clarke. They received an award in the category of young animal welfare campaigners. These two young boys have raised around $650,000 to save the orangutans. They have even co-written ‘Tears in the Jungle’, a book which documents the brothers’ trip to Borneo, with all proceeds going towards saving the orangutans. I was sitting next to their very proud parents and absolutely felt every tear that streamed down their father’s face. He told me that his sons were quite shattered by the tragic passing of Steve Irwin and that inspired them to raise money and awareness about the orangutans They had told their dad: ‘Now that Steve is gone, who is going to look after the Orangutans?’. I am a huge supporter of these young boys and they gave me a lot to think about. You must check out their blog, Tears in the Jungle and promote their amazing work.
Then my name came up and I sat there listening in awe to the very honorable introduction that Isabel made.
Sydney, Wednesday 21 November, 2012 –
“Dr Rayya T-Malaeb from Victoria, has been recognised for her dedication to animal welfare by being awarded a prestigious IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) Action Award. Rayya T-Malaeb works at Vets All Natural in Victoria and if treating an assortment of dogs, cats, horses, cows, birds and native wildlife didn’t keep her busy enough, Rayya is now one of Australia’s most prolific bloggers!
Through her blog and Facebook page, Rayya educates and informs her followers and fans on a range of animal welfare issues. She really connects to pet lovers/owners all the while giving tips on how to care for all sorts of animals, optimising the best of caring and responsible vet practice. By maximising social media Rayya has not only become a friend to many, she provides invaluable advice and guidance.
We were first alerted to her online blog and Facebook page by one of our online fans. Now the office is addicted to her stories and surgery updates – we love hearing about how she provides hands on help and assistance to pets and animals who visit the surgery. Rayya really plays a key role in ensuring that the animals in her local community are looked after.”
As I got up to accept my award, I was just full of raw and very deep emotions. I was very moved with Isabel describing my social media work as an outstanding contribution to pets around the world. My opening words were: ‘Wow, oh wow, I’m speechless and believe me I never usually run out of things to say!’. I went on to thank IFAW for this great and very heart-warming event and described my blogging journey. Of course, I couldn’t contain my tears towards the end of my speech.
When the official ceremony finished, the brilliant event didn’t end there. In fact, that was when I finally got the opportunity to mingle with everyone. I couldn’t stop myself from running to Bob Irwin, father of late Steve Irwin, who had also received an award for his lifetime dedication to animals. I had to shake his hand and it felt like such an honor. I again of course couldn’t stop crying while I was talking to Bob as I was quite star-struck! I spoke to people from all walks of life that have been instrumental in their contributions to animal welfare. It truly was one amazing night that I will never forget.
I flew back to Melbourne the next morning and got into the swing of things. A few days later I was briefly interviewed over the phone by a local journalist about my award. And before I knew it, I was in the local newspaper with an empowering heading: ‘Popular Vet wins Top Award’.
I think there is absolutely no greater achievement in life than being recognized for what you really love doing. My motto in life is encompassed in this brilliant quote :
“I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle.”– Ayn Rand