Ethical fashion is about more than just using the right materials – working for a truly kind world can take many shapes. One of the ways in which we at A Perfect Jane are trying to make the planet better is by donating part of our proceeds to a project we truly believe in: Melief Animal Sanctuary. This project, born locally in the Netherlands and now based in Germany, aligns perfectly with our values and makes us truly proud to contribute to the work it does.
Melief Animal Sanctuary was founded in 20023 in Rockanje, on the coast near Rotterdam. Founders Marc Winters and Lothar Vermeulen named their sanctuary after Melief, one of the goats they housed, who suffered from extreme neglect – but managed to make a miraculous recovery at the sanctuary. Melief came to symbolise everything that the sanctuary wished to work for, and she ended up living a long life at the facility with her two babies.
In 2005, the project received a major blow: the founders were told that the land they were on was to be used for other purposes, so their facilities would have to be demolished. Finding new land in the Netherlands proved impossible, so Marc and Lothar purchased a large farm in Sögel, Germany. There, they were able to dedicate four hectares to housing animals who come from devastating and damaging conditions, have been victims of neglect or abuse, and have nowhere else to go. When they had just relocated, Melief housed around 500 animals.
Alongside a small group of volunteers, Lothar and Marc worked hard to give their animals a new home and a place where they could live their lives in harmony and peace. Their sanctuary grew to house over 1250 animals: dogs, cats, rabbits and chickens, but also horses, goats, ducks, geese, swans, roosters, cows, pigs, ponies and pigeons. Lothar and Marc are constantly making improvements to the facilities, such as rebuilds and adjustments, to make sure that the animals are living their best lives in safety and security. Volunteers, some of them trained by Marc and Lothar, still assist the founders in making Melief the best place it can be.
“Through our activism for animals for over two decades, we gained so much knowledge about the use of both domestic and farm animals that we stopped using animal products,” says Marc. “The sanctuary started to exist in a small scale when we were able to live on the countryside in the Netherlands, and more and more people knew how to find us – all we had to do was send out a request for help regarding our neglected and mistreated animals. We decided that we wanted to help more animals, so in 2003, we founded Stichting Melief to finance this. When we moved to Germany in 2006, the sanctuary grew into what it is today: Melief Animal Sanctuary, with more than 1,000 animals of all shapes and sizes.”
Fundraising is of course one major aspect of running an animal sanctuary – the enormous work of ensuring a good life to this many animals is a very costly endeavour. Melief relies on donations (if you are willing and able to help, donate here) and we at A Perfect Jane are proud to be among their regular donors. 1% of every pair of shoes sold goes to support their work, so you can be proud of your purchase in more ways than one.
“I chose to support Melief Animal Sanctuary because the owners Marc and Lothar dedicate their whole lives - literally- to house and take care of over 1000 animals,” says A Perfect Jane founder Suzanne Harper. “These animals have been abandoned, abused or threatened with death, and Melief takes care of all of them, depending fully on donations and volunteers. The animals all live together on one big farm – sheep, cats, dogs, cows, bulls, pigs, rabbits, birds, horses, everyone lives together in freedom.”
Suzanne also reminds of Melief's adoption offer: while the animals aren't up for actual adoption, you can adopt an animal remotely, meaning offering regular financial care for that animal. Such adoptions are key to keeping the sanctuary afloat.
“We love working with Suzanne and A Perfect Jane because of our shared values - we both know that animals are sentient beings,” says Marc. “Suzanne has not only named her brand after her dearest animal companion, but continues this line in using innovative materials that do not involve animals. Exactly as we envision it too, a world where animals are no longer exploited in any way, and we as a sanctuary could ideally cease to exist.”
We all hope that such a day will come soon. Until then, animal lovers everywhere are grateful that places like Melief exist.