Being a mediator is no easy feat. You'll need the gull and an impressive set of interpersonal skills to handle the people you'll encounter. It is also not uncommon to give up most of your personal time to resolve the community problems with animals. This is why we're certainly thankful for Michelle, our vounteer mediator of 7 years.
How did you get involved?
It all started when I began to feed the first cat at my block. One day, the cat and its kitten went missing and I later found out that the Town Council had rounded up all the cats in my area to be culled in response to a resident's complaint. I was devastated and infuriated. I decided I had to make a difference to the situation. These cats should not have to perish just to satisfy a handful of feedback providers. I felt that issues with our community cats can be better tacked by speaking to the respective caregiver. Through discussion and mutual understanding, habits can be adjusted and even long standing issues can resolved amicably and humanely.
Is it a tough job?
Yes, mediating is an extremely challenging job. It involves handling and working with the Town Councils, HDB, RC, AVA and other government bodies.It requires tact and efficiency. I used to manage 6 Town Councils, handling more than a hundred cases in certain months. On a daily basis, I hold meetings with the various authorities, carry out joint inspections, educate and work with caregivers and residents.
What was the toughest moment you've had to face?
The toughest time thus far was when I faced accusations from Facebook netizens who expected me to handle extra cases from areas which were not under my care.They tagged me in posts and expected an instantaneous response. But when I could not respond in time, some accused me of not doing my job and said very nasty things about. It was very disheartening considering that my entire day was spent on meetings and joint inspections with the Town Council. A little understanding from residents and even fellow cat lovers would go a long way. :)
What does it take to be a mediator?
A great mediator should have a die-hard attitude, be tolerant, patient and possess the wisdom to interact tactfully with the various authorities and not be afraid to hold Town council meetings or RC meetings with over 20 people single-handedly. Of course, one should also have the passion to help and save cats, be optimistic and stay calm when meeting difficult people and situations!