A BABY elephant has been adopted by a care home in Saltburn-by-the-Sea – to support a project run by monks in Sri Lanka who are caring for the vulnerable animals.
Residents at Hazelgrove Court Care Home, on Randolph Street, have been delighted to receive photos and updates on their latest adoption – an orphaned Sri Lankan elephant called Naleku.
They decided to support the project after taking part in online meditation sessions with monks at the Sunethradevi Temple, almost 5,500 miles away, in the South Asian island country.
Organised by the National Activities Providers Association (NAPA), the meditation sessions aim to promote feelings of wellbeing and reduce anxiety and stress.
While learning about the monks, the care home’s activities coordinator, Sharon Lewis, discovered they were running the sessions to raise funds for various projects in their community – among them was caring for orphaned baby elephants.
Sharon proposed the idea of supporting one of the elephants through an adoption programme, where the home contributes a regular amount to their care and in return receives photos and updates on their progress.
Thrilled with the idea, staff and residents began fundraising, sewing, stuffing and decorating baby elephant toys to sell to family, friends and visitors for £1 each.
Sharon said: “At a recent residents’ meeting, I was telling the residents about the monks at the Sunethradevi Temple in Sri Lanka, who are wanting to raise money for different projects in their community by offering meditation sessions with care homes in England.
“One of the projects is helping orphan elephants and our residents were keen to support, so we decided to make toy elephants and sell them to raise funds.
“I made the elephants out of felt and the residents filled them with stuffing and decorated the outsides. We raised enough to adopt a baby elephant called Naleku.”
This is not the first-time residents and staff at the care home have chosen to help an animal in need. Previously, the home adopted a koala called SES Maree, which is being cared for at Port Stephens Koalas, in the New South Wales region of Australia, after being injured in wildfires that consumed an estimated 10 million hectares in the country last year.
Joyce Baxtrum, 90, said: “I never thought we could adopt a baby elephant. Naleku is so sweet. I wonder if she would give our Koala a ride on her back?”
The meditation sessions have also been a hit with the residents, who were fascinated that participants from all over the world were taking part at the same time, including in the Solomon Islands and Polynesia, among others.
Walter Ross, 88, said: “It was so lovely to do a sound meditation today with Ernest from the Sunethradevi Temple and to talk to people from around the world. Isn’t technology clever?”
Residents have also sparked up pen pal friendships with several of the monks at the temple, who are writing letters to practice their English.
Joyce is among those to have penned a letter, in which she included newspaper cuttings of her 150ft lockdown scarf, which made headlines in April this year.
Sharon added: “Everyone at the care home is delighted to have sparked up this friendship with the Sunethradevi Temple monks and we’re all eager to hear from them whenever an update about Naleku arrives or when we get a letter or card.
“It has been wonderful for the residents, especially after a tremendously difficult year, as it gives them a feeling of connection to the wider world and lights up their day whenever they see a photo of their adopted elephant.”