Name - Robin Singh
Position - Co Founder
Organization - Peepal Farm
DOB - 7th February
Place - Himachal Pradesh
Most of us are embroiled in our lives, striving hard to have a comfortable living and make it big. But in turn, a majority of us become like Elizabeth Gilbert from Eat, Pray, Love- having attained the best for ourselves still not happy and content. However, most of us lack the push and the will to do something for others. Very few make the efforts to break through the shackles and listen to that small voice from within to make a difference. This story is about one such hero -Robin Singh, who left his flourishing business and a great life in the US to return to India to find real happiness through his animal shelter- Peepal Farm. Let’s read more about this Robinhood for abandoned animals and what made him a real hero.
Robin graduated as a BSc in Computer Science but realized that this degree would not add value to his life or career. He spent most of his time in college selling music CDs that he wrote himself. Soon he realized that there is great value in technology. Robin notes, “I got into coding very early in life, which got me my first job in the US.” This was the start of his career. He worked hard there and slowly and steadily climbed up the ladder. He started his venture - E-junkie that did exceedingly well and Robin had the life he always dreamt of. However, still, something was amiss. So he decided to come to India to fight the angst that was troubling him.
The main aim of getting back to his native land was to travel and spend some time with himself. He found solace and sanctity in Auroville in Tamil Nadu. But little did he know that this rediscovery of himself will change his life forever. Here he met a lady called Lorraine in Auroville who single-handedly looked after several dogs. Robin reminisces, “ It is when I saw Lorraine that I realized my real quest in life was to look after stray animals and I decided to go head-on with it.” Robin returned to the US to wrap up his life there and handed over his company to his friends.
Robin started an animal welfare group in Auroville, where he worked in an animal rehabilitation center. Soon he moved to Delhi and started a sterilization center. The center’s main aim was to spay stray female dogs and do about six sterilizations every week. This program was hugely successful, but soon, Robin had a desire to move closer to nature and build a place of his own where he could devote himself fully to the cause. This was when Peepal Farm came into existence.
In 2014, Robin and his friends Jollene and Shivani established Peepal Farm, an animal recovery center that doubles up as an organic farm. Nestled amongst the majestic Dhauladhar range in Dharamshala, this small farm is the abode of all abandoned animals who need care and help. Robin and his team work relentlessly to look after these animals and nurse them back to health. Peepal Farm is their place for rest, respite and refuge. When asked about the reason for starting Peepal Farm, Robin says, “There are a lot of not-so-nice practices in Indian villages like cows being left to fend for themselves in the open and beaten after they stop giving milk or grow old. People also have a bias towards male dogs and some more such practices which make us less human. At the recovery center we take in all kinds of injured animals from dogs to mules to cows and nourish them to health. We have a recovery center and not a shelter, which means we’ll release the animals from where we found them or find a safe home for them. Currently running a campaign like ‘Desi dog, Desi log’ which encourages people to adopt local dogs instead of foreign breeds.” On the other side, this place also works as an organic farm. Everything is organic and self-made here. To begin with, the layout of the main building is a passive solar design that requires no artificial lighting or cooling. In fact, most of the animal sheds have been made with used plastic and beer bottles. Robin and his team use cow dung to make biodegradable plant pots. All the farming done here is through natural methods. Robin believes in maximum consumption and minimal wastage and hence, there is minimal trash going out of the farm. Waste segregation, composting, and mulching are regular practices here. Besides looking after animals at the farm and cultivating organic farming, Robin believes in inculcating animal sensitivity amongst young people. He organizes work-exchange volunteer programs for people where they learn all about animal care and organic farming and, in turn, get three meals a day. The team at Peepal Farm also organizes community initiatives wherein they help village girls learn about technology and how to use it effectively. The farm works primarily on contributions from family and friends and recently, the team has started a new concept of ‘farm-cation’. This is an offbeat vacation where you can live a completely local life and get involved with animals and learn sustainable farming. This is a small way in which you can do your bit for society. This novel gesture is slowly gaining popularity and Robin and his team have great hopes for the future.
Peepal Farm is doing exceedingly well today and gets a decent amount of funds for the work that goes on. However, everything was not always so smooth sailing. When asked about the roadblocks, Robin says, “The main problem was to inspire and motivate people to work for this cause. We were considered outsiders in the village and had to gain locals’ trust to help set up our venture. The next issue was to get funds to carry on all the welfare work we were doing.”
Robin emphasizes on having a clear goal and being financially independent for all those who want to walk on the same path. He adds, “If you have enough funds to support you for three years without working only then can you think of starting a self-sustainable venture like Peepal Farm.” He also believes in the labor of love and compassion for animals. Another important thing to consider in today’s world of Instagram and social media overflow is making your presence felt. It is mainly to showcase your work and gain more reach so that maximum people get inspired to do the same work. One advice Robin would like to give young people wanting to make a difference is the perseverance of purpose and purity of focus. These two qualities are integral to doing any social work and also follow the Peepal Farm maxim.
“I do good work, as there is nothing better to do"
“I do good work, as there is nothing better to do"