It’s not just Indians who are making a change in the Indian society. Friederike Irina Bruning, a 59-year-old woman from Germany has taken in over 1,200 cows and is nursing them to health in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. Most of the cows are sick and injured and have been abandoned as they can no longer give milk.
She came to India in 1978 as a tourist from Berlin but had no idea of what life had in store for her.
“I came to India as a tourist and realised that I needed the guidance of a guru. I went in search of a spiritual mentor in Radha Kund,” she said to The Logical Indian while describing her life in Mathura.
Ms Burning had bought a cow at the request of a neighbour 35-40 years ago, and since then everything in her life changed. She purchased books on cows and learned Hindi. “I saw many people were abandoning their cows that couldn’t give milk. They needed protection as no one was willing to care for them,” she said.
Admiringly called Sudevi Mataji, Ms Bruning started a cowshed known as ‘Surbhai Gauseva Niketan’ 12 years ago.
Once a cow reaches her 3,300 sq yard gaushala, she takes them in and provides them with food and medicine. “Today, I have 400 cows and 800 calves. I do not have sufficient place to accommodate more as the premises is getting smaller. I keep the ones that are sick, old and handicapped and send the rest to other gaushalas. If I kept all the cows, I would have 10,000 of them in my shelter. I cannot refuse when somebody leaves a sick or injured cow outside my ashram, I have to take her in,” she stated.
Ms Bruning takes caution of separating the cows in need of medicine from the healthier ones. Blind and badly injured cows that require more attention are kept in separate pens.
When asked how she manages to take care of 1,200 cows she said that people’s donations are not enough and she has to use her own money. “As much as Rs 22 lakh per month is required for medicines, food and the salaries of about 60 workers. I have some property in Berlin and I get rent from that. Initially, my father used to send some money but now he is a senior citizen. Every year, I visit Berlin to see him. He is not well. I am not getting any help from the local authorities, but somehow managing my work,” she said.
Ms Bruning’s father stayed with her in India for 4-5 years but that was before she set up the cow shelter. She visits him every year but he hasn’t witnessed in person the good work of his daughter.
“I cannot close this. I have 60 people working here and they all need money to support their children and family and I have to take care of my cows, who are my children,” said Ms Bruning, realising that without her, so many lives would have nowhere to go.
The Indian Government has also not provided her with a long-term visa, sparking another issue for Ms Bruning; she has to renew her visa every year.
“I cannot take Indian nationality as I would lose rental income from Berlin. My father was working in German Embassy in India. It’s the money of my parents that I have put into this gaushala,” she stated.
The Logical Indian community commemorates Ms Bruning on her generous work to protect the cows of India. Despite being a German national, she has devoted her life for the well-being of animals in India – where a section of the society believes that ‘protecting’ cows means resorting to vigilantism. We hope that the government takes into account her selfless mission and grants her with the necessary resources for her to continue her exceptional humanitarian services.
Contact Irina Bruning here.