Established by Dash Meizler in 2018, the Podrska Foundation is a non-profit grassroots vegan organization of volunteers dedicated to an ethics of care for both human and non-human lives in Uganda.
You have the power to save human and nonhuman lives.
My passion for helping humans has been with me since I was a child growing up in Uganda. I saw my parents struggle to get my four siblings and me educated. In 2007, when I had to transition from my primary school to a secondary school, my parents had no money to pay for my secondary education but they did not give up. As a result of a lie about me having no father, I was taken to a remote rural area where I secured a place in a school; that experience left me sleepless for many nights. While finishing school, I experienced hunger for the first time as there was nothing available to eat there. The hunger for both an education and food was what motivated me to undertake humanitarian work. I don’t want others to sleep on empty stomachs or children to drop out of school because their parents can’t afford to educate them.
My compassion for non-human animals took root late in my life long after I stopped working on a poultry farm on which I had grown up. It all started when a friend sent me a video showing the Taliban cutting off people’s heads. I was so disturbed that I asked my friend not to send me such videos. He replied “gwe nga osala bano” – which means “how come you also slaughter others?” I asked him “which others?” and he replied “chickens.” I dismissed his comment as laughable until one day when I was slaughtering a chicken, and, in the process of taking off their head, theirblood spilt on my foot. At that moment I hoped that I would never die like that. And, suddenly, a statement made by the same friend who sent me the videos popped up in my head: “So you don’t want to die the way you kill chickens, but you are playing God by already killing living things the same way in which you don’t want to die.” I suddenly felt a connection between the taking of a chicken’s life and the taking of a human life. That was my last act of slaughter. However, I did not become vegan immediately as I continued to eat what others slaughtered. But I started making connections between animal products and suffering, I started valuing the lives of non-human animals as much as I valued humans. Since 2018 I have been living a vegan lifestyle and helping others develop empathy for and justice towards our non-human fellow inhabitants of this planet.
Interview with Dash
Calen Otto, a vegan travel blogger from the USA, met Dash in Uganda in 2019 and interviewed him:
Our vision is to educate and empower the most vulnerable humans to fulfil their needs and those of non-human animals, and thus live lives that are healthy, environmentally sustainable, and, above all, ethically oriented.
Our mission is to respond to the urgent needs of at-risk human beings and to advocate for non-human animals. Each of our programs encourages participants to make choices informed by compassion for non-human animals.
- We meet the needs of the vulnerable with empathy.
- We respond to crises in a timely fashion.
- We engage with our beneficiaries honestly and openly.
- We demonstrate the joy of service.
- We take responsibility for our actions and keep record of expenses.