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From CLE to SRI: Our Trip to Sri Lanka with WECare Worldwide - Part 1



Part One: The Journey

By: Danniele Zucker
Edited By: Kendra Williams

The journey that would take us around the world started when Kendra and I met working at Embrace Pet Insurance. We met during training, and our beautiful friendship was born.

Seven months ago, Kendra clicked on a WECare Worldwide video adv on Facebook. She was so moved by their founder, Janey, and her work in Sri Lanka that she shared the video with me and asked if I would apply to volunteer with her. After our volunteer applications were accepted and Embrace approved our time off, the real work began.

One of the first things we did was sit down and compile a list of things we needed to do to make this happen: get vaccines, find a place to stay, buy plane tickets, apply for visas, etc. The list just kept growing. That is when it hit us - how are we going to pay for this? Very quickly we knew that we needed to fundraise to make this trip happen.

So, we launched a GoFundMe, but we also got very creative. We did a fundraiser with Johnny’s Mango in Cleveland, Tattooed Mom in Philadelphia, and an online t-shirt fundraiser within our company. But, by far, the two biggest donations came from our partnerships with Embrace Pet Insurance and Terrestrial Brewing Company.

Kendra and I have each been with Embrace Pet Insurance for just over a year and a half. Not only did they give us the extra paid time off for our trip, but they donated $5,000 to help make it happen! When we found out about it, we both looked at each other and said, “Oh my gosh, this is really happening!”

Our second major donation came from Terrestrial Brewing Company in Cleveland, Ohio. There we hosted a fundraiser called Bark + Brew this past August. We had dog-friendly yoga, local vendors, a band, raffle prizes, and Terrestrial donated $1 per beer to the cause. Not only did we have a blast, but we raised $1,600 that day!

Now that we had the financial end of it covered, we knew we needed to think about what bringing veterinary supplies over to Sri Lanka. It is notoriously difficult to import many items into the country, but bringing them through customs is relatively easy. Luckily, we both work with hundreds of veterinary clinics. We started by reaching out to the clinics we had the closest relationships with. Before we knew it, clinics like Voorhees Veterinary Center (NJ), Belpar Pet Care Centre (OH), Uniontown Vet Clinic (OH), Macedonia Vet Clinic (OH), and Tremont Animal Clinic (OH) – and a 3M vet rep from Minnesota - managed to fill a giant duffle bag with 50lb of veterinary supplies. Before we knew it, we were at Kendra’s house packing up the supplies and getting ready to head to the airport for the long journey from Cleveland, Ohio to Sri Lanka.

Burj KhalifaThe trip from Cleveland to Colombo took a very long time. We flew from Cleveland to Boston and then 12 ½ hours from Boston to Dubai. There we had a seven-hour layover during which we visited the Burj Khalifa (pictured right). Just as quickly as we left the airport, we found ourselves back there boarding our 4 ¼ hour flight to Colombo.

By the time we arrived in Colombo, we had been traveling for almost two days. We were sleep deprived and in desperate need of a shower. After getting through customs and picking up our bags, we met the taxi driver who would take us to Kandy. About 4 ½ hours into our drive, the driver asked us if we wanted to see elephants.

Thirty minutes later we were getting out of the car to go and see elephants at the Pinwale Elephant Orphanage. We enjoyed an elephant feeding, learning how elephant poo paper is made, try on a sari, petting baby elephants, and watching the while group play in the river.

It took another 1 ½ hours to reach Kandy. There we slept 12 straight hours then took a train to Ella. In total, it was an 8-hour ride and it only cost about $2.00 per ticket. We made friends and got to see how beautiful Sri Lanka is.

From here, we headed to Udawalade National Park for an all-day safari and then on to Tallala to meet up with the team from WeCare Worldwide.

Read Part 2: Our Time with WECare Worldwide

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Pet health insurance is administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency, LLC and underwritten by one of the licensed insurers of American Modern Insurance Group, Inc., including American Modern Home Insurance Company d/b/a in CA as American Modern Insurance Company (Lic. No 2222-8), and American Southern Home Insurance Company. Coverage is subject to policy terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, underwriting review, and approval, and may not be available for all risks or in all states. Rates and discounts vary, are determined by many factors, and are subject to change. Wellness Rewards is offered as a supplementary, non-insurance benefit administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency in the United States. © 2020 American Modern Insurance Group, Inc.  Wellness Rewards not available in Rhode Island.