for ISKCON News on Jan. 22, 2011
Devotees in ISKCON Italy’s rural Villa Vrindavana community are still struggling to recover after a violent snowfall in the Florence area on Friday, December 17th paralyzed the farm and completely destroyed the tent-shelter in which its cows were housed.
The intense three-hour snowstorm brought the old circus tent, which has served as a stable for the past fifteen years, to the ground while the cows were still under it.
Despite the extreme conditions and overall dangerous situation, Aravindha Dasa, Ekadasi Dasa, and cattleman Bhakta Roberto worked with selfless courage and determination to rescue them.
The devotees had to use knives and other tools to cut the cows free from the tent’s plastic sheeting, while two animals were so badly trapped that it took three hours to free them. The rescue work, which went on from 7pm until 10pm at night, was hampered by the scattered sructural pieces which hung from the precariously balanced metal tent posts and were strewn across the ground.
“After the snowstorm calmed down, we began cleaning all remains and dangerous materials from the area,” says Villa Vrindavana temple president Parabhakti Dasa. “Luckily, a team of seven sankirtana devotees, headed by Nimai Prabhu, were visiting from Russia, and with their help we started to build a temporary tent shelter.”
One month after the incident, the temporary shelter has been completed thanks to the improving weather conditions and devotees’ help. However, while it will enable the cows to face the remainder of the winter, Parabhakti feels that it is urgent to proceed quickly with the construction of a permanent structure capable of comfortably accommodating the cows, agricultural machinery and equipment.
“Building a new barn was already a project under consideration, and we would have soon launched a fundraising campaign, but now the situation has deteriorated and we need to accelerate the procedure,” he says. “It’s an essential step to ensure the future of agricultural and cow protection projects, and to inspire all the devotees who are trying so hard to inject new life into these departments, which have languished for so many years.”
Parabhakti expects the planning and construction of the new six hundred square meter barn, which will cost around 50,000 Euro, to be a long process. “We are currently negotiating about it with the local authorities,” he says. “But permission for any type of consruction is very difficult to attain here in Tuscany.”
In the meantime, Villa Vrindavana is still desperately searching for donations from ISKCON devotees and communities to support their plan.
“We give heartfelt thanks again and again to all the devotees who helped rescue the cows and build the temporary shelter, for their great solidarity and selflessness,” says Parabhakti. “And we give thanks also to all those around the world who are supporting us financially and emotionally.”
You can send donations to help construct a new barn for Villa Vrindavana’s cows to the postal bank account named - ISKCON - IBAN IT26 B076 0102 8000 0006 7770 438 SWIFT BPPIITRRXXX, which is dedicated to the cows’ maintenance. For more information or to donate through Paypal, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.