The 2017 Unbound Project Grant Recipients

The 2017 Unbound Project Grant Recipients

All photos by Jo-Anne McArthur/Unbound Project except where indicated.

In 2017, the Unbound Project invited some of our featured women to apply for our first-ever round of grants to support projects aimed at helping farmed animals around the world. We awarded grants to women doing remarkable work to make real change for animals. We gave away a total of $100,000, with 10 grants of $10,000 each going towards funding innovative projects in eight countries.

Read the stories of the projects we’re funding and the women leading them below.

Note that any future Unbound Project Grants will also be awarded to applicants who are invited to submit funding proposals. We are not accepting unsolicited applications at this time. 

2017 Unbound Project Grant Recipients

Pam Ahern

Pam Ahern – Australia

Ahern is the founder of Edgar’s Mission, a sanctuary for rescued farm animals and one of Australia’s most important voices in farm animal protection. The sanctuary is home to hundreds of animals and also runs animal protection and vegan advocacy campaigns and events on-site and around the country. Ahern’s 2017 Unbound Project Grant will go towards funding a cross-country speaking tour in Australia where she will share the story of starting a sanctuary farm sanctuary and dedicating her life to animal

Check back in 2018 for Ahern’s full Unbound profile.


Piia Anttonen – Finland

Piia Anttonen

Piia Anttonen

Anttonen runs Tuulispää Animal Sanctuary in Finland, a sanctuary she founded in 2012 after pledging to always help the animals most in need, the elderly, the sick, the abused, and the neglected. Anttonen’s 2017 Unbound Project Grant will go towards stepping up her sanctuary’s vegan advocacy with the creation of an on-site education centre to host plant-based cooking classes, film screenings, speakers, school visits, and community events.

Read Anttonen’s full Unbound profile here.


Allison Argo

Allison Argo – USA

Argo became a filmmaker almost by accident as she sought a way to speak for those who could not tell their own stories. “I look for those who are struggling – for survival or freedom or simply for dignity and respect,” she says. Argo’s latest film, documentary The Last Pig tells the story of a pig farmer who, after a change of heart, sent his remaining animals to sanctuaries and moved to plant-based farming. Argo’s 2017 Unbound Project Grant will be used to promote the film.

Read Argo’s full Unbound profile here.


Karyn Boswell – Canada

Karyn Boswell

Boswell founded and runs Penny Lane Farm Sanctuary in Canada. Almost an accidental activist, she started the sanctuary after moving to a rural area and being shocked by the treatment of horses sold (generally for horsemeat) at auctions. Today Penny Lane is an important voice for horses and other farmed animals in Canada. Boswell’s 2017 Unbound Project Grant will go towards the construction of a visitor barn and educational space at the sanctuary’s new location, allowing visitors and school children to learn about the sanctuary’s animal residents and the industries that abuse countless animals just like them each year.

Read Boswell’s full Unbound profile here.

Juliana Casteñeda-Turner. Photo by Julie O’Neill.

Juliana Casteñeda-Turner – Colombia

Casteñeda-Turner is the founding director of Juliana’s Animal Sanctuary, which she officially opened in 2008. The sanctuary is now home to more than 80 rescued animals—most of them farm animals—and also runs education and vegan outreach programs. Casteñeda-Turner’s 2017 Unbound Project grant will go towards expanding the sanctuary’s educational outreach and providing free vegan resources to schools in Colombia.

Read Casteñeda-Turner’s full Unbound profile here.


Josie Du Toit – South Africa

Josie Du Toit

Du Toit is Co-Director of the Vervet Monkey Foundation in South Africa. Born and raised in England, Du Toit’s early love for animals led her to volunteer and work full time at the African sanctuary she’s now called home for more than ten years. Under Du Toit’s leadership, the vervet sanctuary has also developed a vegan outreach program, and the 2017 Unbound Project Grant will be used to build an on-site kitchen to host vegan cooking classes for volunteers, community members, and chefs from local schools.

Read Du Toit’s full Unbound profile here.


Dobrosława Gogłoza

Dobrosława Gogłoza – Poland

Gogłoza is the co-founder of Otwarte Klatki (branded as Open Cages internationally), the Polish organization driving change for animals in Eastern Europe. Gogłoza’s group focuses its energy on campaigns and projects that will have the maximum impact for animals. Her 2017 Unbound Project Grant will go towards a high-impact plant-based advocacy campaign in Estonia.

Read Gogłoza’s full Unbound profile here.

Camille Labchuk – Canada

Camille Labchuk

Labchuk is Executive Director of Animal Justice, Canada’s only legal advocacy organization for animals. A lifelong activist, Labchuk made the decision to become a lawyer in order to fight for greater legal and political protections for animals. Since its foundation, Animal Justice has quickly become one of the leading national voices for animals in Canada. Labchuk and Animal Justice will use the 2017 Unbound Project Grant to increase their federal political outreach and bring media attention to the need for federal protections for farm animals.

Read Labchuk’s full Unbound profile here.


Smaragda Louw with members of the Ban Animal Trading team

Smaragda Louw – South Africa

Louw co-founded Ban Animal Trading (BAT) in 2013 and the group has quickly made a name for itself in animal protection in South Africa. Louw’s group has a broad focus and a relentless drive to keep conducting new investigations, launching new campaigns, and generally keep animal issues in the public eye. Louw and BAT will use their 2017 Unbound Project Grant to fund investigative work on farms through 2018.

Read Louw’s full Unbound profile here.


Hazel Zhang – China

Hazel Zhang. Photo by Kelly Guerin.

When Zhang watched a documentary about the brutal treatment of farm animals, she knew she had to take action. She started VegPlanet, a website that shares news and resources about living a vegan lifestyle –– one of the first of its kind in China. Today, Zhang’s site has hundreds of thousands of followers and a growing team of full-time staff.  She and her team will use the 2017 Unbound Project Grant to host a series of simultaneous vegan events, promoting them online and in the media to increase public awareness of the benefits of plant-based diets.

Watch Hazel’s Unbound video profile here.


Text by Sayara Thurston. All featured photos by Jo-Anne McArthur/Unbound Project except where indicated.

Juliana Castañeda

Juliana Castañeda

“Once we fully understand that we are all equals, just with a different body, we will find the solution to all our problems.”

Castañeda and her son with sanctuary residents. All photos in this story taken by Julie O’Neill for the Unbound Project.

The first rescue Juliana Castañeda remembers was a little white dog she found on the streets of Colombia when she was seven. He was hungry and dirty, so Castañeda scooped him up and carried him home. She named him Copito, or Q-tip.

More rescues soon followed, including dogs, cats, birds and rodents. Castañeda even once brought home an abandoned little boy—street children are not uncommon in Colombia—whom she fed in her room for days before her mother discovered him.

To Castañeda, it was all the same: If someone needed help, you helped, regardless of species.

Hundreds of rescues later, her feelings haven’t changed.

Once we fully understand that we are all equals, just with a different body, we will find the solution to all our problems.

Warm, sincere and endlessly nurturing, Castañeda is founding director of Juliana’s Animal Sanctuary, which she officially opened in 2008, although most of her life had been dedicated to the idea. Within a few years of finding Copito, she was selling chocolates and veggie burgers at school, saving all of her profits for her “dream.”

“I told my mother, ‘When I grow up, I want to buy a big house, and I am going to help all the animals in the world,’” she recalls.

As much as Castañeda is a dreamer, she is even more of a doer. It is perhaps the best way to describe her: always doing.

Her recent pregnancy was no exception. She says the hardest part was the last week, when her belly got so big that she finally had to leave her animals’ care to volunteers. But after 20-plus hours of labor and the 10 p.m. home birth of her son, Bhimal, her belly was no longer in her way, so she was up feeding animals the next morning.

“I can’t remember the last time I sat down and relaxed,” Castañeda, who has dark reddish-brown hair and a bright smile, says laughing. “My body does get tired, but I love my work so much.”

Castañeda with her son Bhimal and rabbits at the sanctuary

That work includes far more than taking care of the sanctuary’s 80 or so animals, among them cows, pigs, horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, roosters and more—all of whom Castañeda considers her children. She also hosts sanctuary visitors, gives talks at local schools, fundraises, and promotes veganism through education, a meat-free Monday campaign and cooking workshops in Colombia and beyond.

And that is just one of her jobs. With only about a fifth of the sanctuary’s costs covered by donations, Castañeda helps make up the rest through online work as a Spanish language translator. She brings in additional money selling handmade jewelry.

On top of all that, she runs a robust local project as part of Food for Life, a global relief organization that provides vegan meals for the poor. Her husband, Australian Paul Turner, whom she met through Food for Life in 2013, helped start the nonprofit decades ago.

Turner’s experience and help have been instrumental in boosting support for the sanctuary from overseas; nearly all of its volunteers and donations come from outside Colombia.

“Colombia is not a rich country and is still very ignorant when it comes to animal protection,” she says, describing the country as an extremely challenging place to help animals.

We have a huge responsibility. We are literally the only hope and haven for animals in this country.

She says she can’t imagine doing anything else with her life, and it is the animals who keep her going.

“They give me all the energy to never stop.”

She offers the story of one in particular, a cow named Gita, who Castañeda rescued from a slaughterhouse 10 years ago. When Castañeda first saw her, workers were trying force Gita into submission by electrocuting her.

“They were trying everything to break her spirit, but she was determined to maintain her dignity,” Castañeda remembers. “I named her Gita, which means ‘song.’ Gita is an example for everyone. The animals are my inspiration. Even after so much pain has been inflicted on them, they still come to you with love. They know everything about forgiveness.”

It is by rediscovering our connection with animals, by meeting and spending time with them, that Castañeda believes we will learn to stop harming them.

Sanctuary resident Balarama

She offers another example, a 1,300-pound bull named Balarama who came to the sanctuary as a calf and whose face is tattooed on Castañeda’s left arm.

“He is a huge animal, but he is like a kitten. He purrs and everything,” she says. Castañeda has seen him change nearly everyone who has met him.

“They’ve told me, they write to me, ‘He is my friend. I cannot eat animals again.’ He is connecting people to all the bulls in the world.”

Castañeda sees mothers and children as another key. Kids are naturally inclined to be kind to animals, but many have told her they couldn’t go vegan because of their families. So Castañeda decided to begin targeting moms.

“The mother is the boss of the table,” in much of South America, she says, “so we have to teach the bosses.”

Castañeda always imagined that she would become a mom herself, but it was her efforts to reach others that made her want to have her son when she did.

“Before, many mothers were upset with me because their kids were turning vegan thanks to visiting the sanctuary or a vegan food workshop. They told me, ‘You don’t understand! You don’t have kids!’” Castañeda says.

“Now I can say to these mothers, ‘Yes, I really do understand.’”

In addition to moms, she hopes animal activists can learn from her example.

“I live in a poor, crazy country, and I am doing this,” she says.

“Anything is possible.”

Learn more and support Juliana’s Animal Sanctuary.
Photos and interview for this story by Julie O’Neill. Text by Corrine Benedict.