Solid foundation

SYLVIA and Karan Bettis-Heijne will use virtually all of their new East Fremantle home to raise money for charity.

Aside from building a modest 81sqm sustainable house, the rest of the Perth couple’s 1362sqm property on Preston Point Road will be devoted to permaculture gardens and a mini-orchard.

There will be lots of excess produce, which will be shared with neighbours and sold at markets to raise money for Animal Aid Abroad.

A huge terraced front garden will be filled with “bush tucker” plants.

“We’re tired of using stuff and being part of the problem,” Mrs Karan Bettis-Heijne says.

The couple is also looking at running permaculture workshop fundraisers.

• Sylvia Bettis-Heijne, Janet Thomas, Karan Bettis-Heijne with Jack the dog. Photo by Jenny D’Anger

Perth’s Janet Thomas founded AAA 12 years ago, after teaching English in Egypt and being appalled at how animals were treated there.

Initially she worked with the Cairo Zoo, fighting for a lone elephant to be unchained and allowed to wander around its enclosure.

Money was also raised for a shade and a better pen, and improved enclosures for the chimpanzees.

Now back in WA, Ms Thomas works in partnership with animal welfare organisations in 12 countries improving conditions for working animals like donkeys, bullocks, horses and camels.

“People don’t realise there are millions of working animals in impoverished counties,” she says.

The animals are often worked seven days a week in heat or snow, without proper food or water, Ms Thomas says.

“They are tired and ill and beaten to get the last ounce out of them.”

AAA provides medicine, treatment, more-humane equipment and education programs on how to better treat working animals.

For more information or to make a tax deductible donation visit


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