Nana’s Legacy

By Sophie Sadler

Donald and Anne Boers had just flown into South Africa in December 2017, when they received the news that Donald´s mother, Nana, was in hospital. They flew straight back to Portugal and were able to spend
a final week with Nana, who was in a coma and later passed away from a brain haemorrhage.

It had been my privilege to meet Nana earlier that year when I wrote an article about her Bamboo dog shelter in Guadalupe. I was immediately drawn to Nana, who was certainly unconventional but exuded warmth and wisdom in the lines of her face. One of her idiosyncrasies was that she dressed only in white and was always seen with her beloved dog at her side. I rode on her golf buggy as we zoomed across the fields, the dogs happily bouncing along to the lake. I was very sad to hear of her passing and have been keen for a while to find out what happened to the Bamboo charity that she left behind.

I need not have been concerned. I chatted online to her equally charming and charismatic son and daughter-in-law, Donald and Anne, who reside in Madrid. “We have always had rescue dogs and cats ourselves, so taking care of abandoned animals is something that was already a part of our lives,” explains Anne.

They visited Nana two or three times a year, and had spoken to her about what would happen when she passed. “Bamboo was her passion and she wanted it to be able to continue for at least two years when she was no longer with us and she made this financial commitment,” explains Donald.

As the two years came to a close, however, the joy and commitment Nana had exuded prove to be infectious. “We decided that we wanted to keep it going. It has evolved into her heritage and we have now injected some of our own personality into it.”

The couple try to spend all their spare time there, including at least six weeks in the summer, for working holidays when they carry out maintenance and enjoy the farm life with their three boys. Their youngest Bear is 11 years old and he particularly enjoys taking part in the running of the refuge. “He loves to go around in the buggy, as his grandmother did, and can´t wait to go there and work.”

Anne oversees the committee members and organises the groups of volunteers via a WhatsApp group. They manage anything from a leak to a sick or injured dog. Donald adds, “My mother was the heart and soul of the charity, but we are as dependent on the dedication of the volunteers as my mother was.”

The association currently houses 19 dogs. “Sometimes people tie them to the gate, or other kennels contact us if they need help. Residents contact us about, or bring us, abandoned dogs. For example, Bluto is about 10 years old and had been hit by a car. Someone picked him up, paid for medical treatment and then brought him to us. He is still looking for a forever home.”

“Last year we had 30 adoptions. The way my mother set things up, we have very few issues with the dogs, most of them are adopted and those that aren’t, have a forever home here, in this little piece of paradise,” adds Donald.

They are not currently at maximum capacity, which is 30 dogs; Donald and Anne put this down to having had more adoptions due to COVID. They are anticipating growing their pack as they always get an influx of puppies in the spring.

Like every shelter, they need more forever homes for mature dogs, although sometimes it is hard to let their long-term residents fly the nest. “One dog Bubba was with us for years and refused to be adopted. Then an 83-year-old lady came to the shelter and wanted her. We thought she would never leave, so it was a bit hard to let her go. Now she loves the constant attention from her new owner, it is a match made in heaven.”

They can always use more help through volunteers, donations, materials, although Bamboo always manages to have a dedicated team of (long-time) volunteers. “We usually have plenty of volunteers because people enjoy spending time here,” says Anne.

So Bamboo has proven to be a lasting legacy for Nana. A sanctuary not just for the animals she adored but also her much-loved family and the volunteers who love spending time there. It is a fitting tribute to a wonderful lady who is sadly missed.

Monetary donations of any size are always very welcome. You can donate via the PayPal button on the website


Share this edition