Compassion in action is the best way to describe the purpose of this month’s entrepreneur. After moving from Washington DC to Latin America, Nina Logan Smith knew her career abroad had to be a meaningful one. Thanks to that motivation, the lives of countless animals have been saved. This is her story.
Before leaving the United States, Nina Logan Smith was working in Washington, DC. Her full-time job at one of the U.S. capital’s luxury hotels and then at a specialty paper and invitation company kept her busy, but she knew she wanted something more fulfilling. She wanted to have an impact. During this time , Nina started volunteering at a local cat rescue organization named 4PAWS. She was in charge of maintaining the cages of adoptable cats at a local pet supply store.
One of the first things you will notice about Nina is her friendliness and her passion for animal welfare. This enthusiasm has allowed her to help stray and working animals in Latin America and now in Jordan. However, it is not only her heart that dictates the course of action. Nina has spent a lot of time receiving training and doing research to become a skillful and responsible advocate animals, particularly for cats and dogs. One of the organizations that has provided Nina with valuable knowledge and tools is Best Friends. In fact, Nina attended a week-long training before moving to Jordan to be better equipped to handle street animals in need.
During our interview, Nina tells me about the challenges and opportunities of being involved in animal rescue. It is certainly not a glamorous job, but to her this does not matter because she is committed to improve the lives of those animals around her who cannot speak for themselves.
She is a 100% right. Having been involved in animal welfare myself for the past five years, I know first hand that helping animals entails many undesirable situations; like seeing cruelty and neglect, being in unsanitary places, trying to work with people who don’t see there’s a more humane way to treat animals, struggling to find funds and helping hands, etc.
But, before we learn more about Nina’s current chapter, let’s find out about her journey. I asked Nina if she had always wanted to live in a different country and what has been her most rewarding experience of living as an expat. This is what she said:
“Growing up in suburban Utah, I always imagined myself living in a big, glamorous city and since I watched a lot of old, classic movies I was especially enamored with Paris, but I never imagined my life would take this path of living in a different country every few years.
“In Bogotá, Colombia I was fortunate enough to work with a fantastic organization, Asociación Defensora de Animales y del Ambiente. Despite my woeful lack of Spanish at the time, they welcomed me with open arms and over the next three years we worked very, very hard to improve the lives of Bogotá’s many street animals and working equine. I learned so much from their small but passionate, dedicated team that worked tirelessly against great odds. I felt really connected to Bogotá because of our work together and a piece of my heart still resides there in Colombia."
One of the benefits of living overseas is having those special bonds to our causes and to people wherever we go; but what about the challenges? What is the most difficult experience of having a nomadic lifestyle?
“Starting over again every few years can be a challenge as you have to orient yourself, make new contacts and find your place, all in an unfamiliar city and sometimes in an unfamiliar language. I try to make this transition easier by doing some preliminary research to decipher what are the animal welfare issues of the new country and where can I be of the most help. Then, once I land, I get to work finding opportunities for myself. “ Nina shared.
In The Elephant Soul blog we have talked about the inherent difficulties of living overseas. One that usually comes up throughout the interviews is on starting over every few years. Most of us have faced it more than once. This is why having a purpose and pursuing our passion (s) can help tremendously, even if we find certain limitations in the new host country. In this regard, Nina tells us how she decided to give her passion a chance. It all started with one beautiful, fluffy cat.
“Buster was the catalyst for my rescue work. I never had pets growing up, except for a few goldfish, so adding Buster to our family in 2008 was life-changing for me. He's a wonderful companion, sweet, silly, sensitive to my feelings and he makes me laugh. He has also been a patient and accepting foster brother to the many cats, kittens, puppies and dogs who have been through our home.
In our first post overseas back in 2011 I was in a contemplative place as I knew I needed work that was more fulfilling than what I had been doing in DC. At the time I had only a little bit of animal experience but already believed very strongly that I needed to speak up for those who could not. That’s when I took the plunge and jumped into rescue work full-time.”
As part of her ongoing commitment to help animals in Jordan, Nina has implemented a program to trap, neuter and return stray cats in Amman. Known in the animal rescue world as TNR, this humane method helps stabilize cat populations by carrying out a safe and simple sterilization procedure. So far Nina has personally trapped 33 cats in Amman only and 134 altogether. You can see why her work is so necessary, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), “100 to 400 cats might result from an unspayed female cat.” Read more about this topic here.
When cats fall under Nina’s care, she is fully capable of providing them with special care. In fact, in her house there is a dedicated room to help animals recover from surgeries or illnesses. During my interview I met Andy, a male stray cat who had a chronic lesion in his mouth and two root abscesses. Aside from receiving the necessary care, Andy was given meals, antibiotics, and was kept in a sanitary place that allowed him to fully recover before being released back in an area that Nina frequently monitors.
In the entrepreneur interviews we share here, we highlight how our passions are an important drive in our expat lives. Sometimes we are fortunate to spend a lot of time on them, other times we can only do it sporadically. As someone who puts her passions first, I wanted Nina to tell us what her advice is to those women living the nomadic lifestyle on how to pursue their passions. This is what she stated.
“Go for it! Don’t just talk about your passion, be about your passion. There will be obstacles and challenges as you forge your path, but to be able to immerse yourself in work that you love, that makes a difference, is very powerful.”
It is clear that Nina is living her life’s purpose. Now in Jordan, her passion is little by little transforming the lives of neighbors and neighborhood cats alike. Nina’s invaluable hands-on experience is helping others learn how to trap cats humanely and care for them after they’re released. She has conducted several free workshops in Amman, including one for the Girl Scouts. She tells me:
“ I believe that education is essential to being an efficient and effective animal advocate and I make it a goal to constantly learn more about the rescue field through online courses, webinars, workshops and conferences. I also spend a lot of my time both teaching others how to trap correctly and coaching new trappers through the trapping process.”
During these years Nina has also worked with other types of animals, including rabbits, horses and even a parrot! And although the costs are high in countries like Jordan, she doesn’t allow this to come in the way of helping more animals, even if she personally needs to fund each one of their treatments. To have more impact, she recently hosted a fundraiser to help cover part of the costs of the other people involved in trapping. If you’d like to learn more or support Nina’s ongoing project to help stray cats in Jordan, visit The Basboos Project fb page.
When Nina is not busy helping stray animals, she enjoys watching reality TV with Buster, her sweet and gorgeous Himalayan cat. Her favorite tea is any kind of boba tea with extra boba pearls. Her spiritual practice include daily prayer and scripture study.
If you’d like to connect with Nina or support her ongoing programs, you can email her at email@example.com