OMG our new Cat Headquarters aka Pussy Palace aka Meow Mansion is finally ready! And our new charity shop there is open!
After 6 months of not having a cat shop on the island, things are finally getting back to normal: we have a place where people can come visit for all kinds of cat issues! To buy cat food, cat souveniers, get basic medication or collars or toys for their cats. And who knows what else there will be!
The building also has a huge room for clinic and this gives us a possibility to organize vet visits more often. As soon as the clinic room is properly set up and organized, and we have stocked up medicines and supplies, we can welcome vets anytime! I am just exploding with happiness, as having a good, proper building all for cats has been my dream since I started the project 4 years ago. But it always felt that dream was beyond reach, because we never had money to buy land and build anything. But here we are now! I still have trouble believing this is true!
But let's start from the beginnig:
In february 2017 I was told Egoiste Restaurant will need our cat shop space for their own use. Meaning: I need to move my cat stuff out of there. I was expecting this. The island went through a huge beach clean-up at the end of February, and all businesses on the beach had to move out of the beach. Still, when I got the news that my cat shop days in Egoiste will come to an end caused quite a panic in my mind. What the hell am I supposed to do now? I have no money to rent another place (Egoiste shop space was given to me and cats for free) and there's no way I will find anyone willing to donate me a new place.
But, things will always work out somehow. Later that same day I told my friend that I am gonna lose my cat shop and don't know what the hell to do now and what is going to happen with my cat project. He didn't even blink. He just said, well, let's build you a new shop right there and pointed to an empty land he owns. Seriously? OMG! What an earth have I done to deserve this????
We made first plans for the building, and I was expecting I could maybe have a tiny piece of land where I could fit one room, serving as a shop/clinic/storage, a bit like what I had in Egoiste. But oops, the one tiny kiosk that I had in my mind exploded into a massive mansion, with a shop in front, a storage/recovery room and a big room for a clinic. About 40 square meters in total! Amazeballs!
Getting money to build the new cat headquarters was what needed to be done next. I had no idea what the building might cost, but I was sure it won't be cheap. We organized the first fundraising event in February, and collected about 17million rupiah. People also donated online and personally. I also started to collect building crew sponsors to cover the cost of the actual building work, as we knew the building master will charge about 1million per square meter for the construction work.
The old cat shop at Egoiste closed at the end of March. We had our last cat clinic there in the beginning of April and then I moved out. All the stuff was stored into my house. Then it was basically just waiting waiting waiting... waiting for donations to flow in, waiting for the building crew to finish other projects.
Still, by June 2017 we didn't have enough money to even get started! Desperation was the number 1 feeling I had, especially after meeting the building master Mr.Ramdan. He gave me some estimates of what and how much materials is needed and what everything will cost. Holy crap! I basically had money for sand and cement and bricks, but that's it. How the hell am I ever gonna get the building up??? Luckily, Trawangan Dive and their new Fat Cats Bar & Restaurant stepped in. They contacted me and said they want to help out and organize a massive fundraising event. And so they did, with the help of Gili Eco Trust volunteers. The crazy Blind Dating event was held in the beginning of August and collected over 40 million rupiah! Now we can get started!
August 16th was the day the construction work begun. I was beyond excited, but at the same time I was super stressed about money. I was scared the money will run out before the building is ready and I will end up having a half done mansion. Luckily, again, we got all the building bricks donated to us, plus most of the tiles we needed for floors and the clinic room counter tops plus small amounts of some other materials, so that saved us loads of money. But still, I was in complete panic most of the time.
While I was panicing and losing sleep over the building, the construction crew at the building site was working like crazy. I've seen some building projects here and was expecting loads of problems: shitty work, disappearing workers etc. But omg everything went super smoothly and so fast I still cannot believe it.
The first hole to our land was digged in the morning of August 16th. Just 7 weeks later the building was 100% ready, with roof on top, everything painted, running water, electricity connected and locks on doors. FROM NOTHING TO READY IN SEVEN WEEKS! Holy crap!
Check our photo album in Facebook to see how the building got up.
The building cost about 121million rupiah in total. That is about 11 500AUD, 7600EUR, 9000USD.
Once the building was all ready in the beginning of October, I still had to wait a bit before I was able to start moving all cat stuff in. I had to wait for my new work permit to come through (getting a work permit for Indonesia is a crazy process and takes months!) and once it did, I had to fly to Singapore to pick up a visa I need for the work permit. Luckily, that got sorted in the first week of October.
I then started moving all cat stuff from my house to the new building and our new shop opened for the first time on Monday the 9th of October. Everything is still a bit chaotic as I don't have any furniture and no money to buy anything (cats are totally broke at the moment), but whatever, the shop is open! Rest will be sorted out somehow, later on.
I cannot believe how amazing the building is! The rooms are spacious, and there is so much light inside! Aircons work, roof is not leaking, we have fresh water coming directly from the tap and there is SO MUCH SPACE! There are no termites, cockroaches, mice or frogs! Don't get me wrong, I am forever grateful for Egoiste for having me there for the past years, they really helped the cat project to take a huge leap forward, but honestly, the room we had there was quite horrible. Especially during the rainy season as the roof was leaking so badly it was sometimes like standing in a shower! Not to mention the damn gang of mice, who ate everything and shitted all over the place!
So, the new bulding is awesome and it seems people have been waiting for the new shop to open! At the moment of writing this the shop has been open for 2 days and we have already had several customers and have sold some stuff! I am so excited!
Past few month have been hectic and stressfull, and sometimes I was wondering how will it feel when the day comes that the building is ready and things are back to normal.
I can tell you now it feels absolutely, totally, 100% AMAZING!
And this could have never been possible without getting help from people and businesses here and around the world! Time to thank everyone who made this possible:
First of all: the biggest thanks and warmest purrs to Mr. Robert and Mr. Neil who gave us the land, who donated all the building bricks and most of the tiles. This would have never been possible without these two australian dudes who have the biggest, warmest hearts! Love you guys! And the island cats love you toooooo!
Big thanks also to Sarah at Trawangan Dive / Fat Cats who came up with the idea of organizing a huge fundraising event at their bar. Without the event and the money it collected, I don't think the building would be ready yet! Thanks also to Gili Eco Trust volunteers and everyone else who helped the event be such a big success!
Thanks to Gili Golf for hosting the fundraiser event in February and thanks to everyone who helped that event go so smoothly.
Thanks to Mr.Memet in Gili Palms, who helped me so much during the building process: he was translating when I had problems understanding what the building crew tried to tell me, he helped handling the money and paying the bills, and he was just a huge source of information and support.
The following people and businesses each sponsored at least 1 square meter of the construction work:
And thanks to everyone who has made donations, big or small, to us in the past 6 months! All money was well needed and spent on our new building.
Thanks also to Tori at Lutwala Dive for keeping the cat hospital running, collecting donations and having some of our merchandise for sale at their office while I was doing nothing but losing my mind over money and building and getting things done.
Now we can get back to business and continue helping our feline islanders! More news coming soon!