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Who We Are

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Phaedra Barratt

Founder & CEO

Phaedra Barratt was raised in the Bahamas, where she developed an interest in and connection to the earth and nature. Being an only child with cats as siblings and friends gave focus to those feelings. She thought of them as magical, wondrous beings who slept by her side since day one. She always loved all animals, but cats were special.


Phaedra studied photography at the Rhode Island School of Design. Following that, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for Photography in Mexico, an opportunity that would prove itself educational far beyond the scope of her program.


In 2001, the Fulbright Scholar moved to London, where she earned a Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Acupuncture from the University of Portsmouth. After 11 years, with a flourishing acupuncture practice and a beautiful family consisting of herself, her husband, their two-year-old daughter, and two cats, Phaedra got tired of all the grey. They packed up their lives into three bags and moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.


Although she had always been an advocate for rescue cats, two purebred littermates came into Phaedra’s life very sick and not expected to survive. With her round-the-clock care, they flourished. After a friend pointed out that the very gregarious boy should have his own Instagram page, @Balam_Says was born.


As Balam’s fame grew, Phaedra realized she could use her platform to bring awareness to animal suffering in Mexico. It was, ironically, a rescue *dog* who would be the catalyst for this. She took in a puppy whose back legs were paralyzed. As he recovered from his injuries, he was fitted with his first wheelchair and given the name Speedy. Because of the Balam_Says Instagram page, a woman in California followed his story and adopted him. Then came Twiggy, a sweet but grumbly FeLV+ cat. She was a foster at first, but became part of the family for a wonderful—but far too short—time.


It was then that Phaedra decided to form a 501(c)3, a non-profit organization to benefit the stray and wild cats of Mexico: The Balam Foundation. In addition to taking in rescues, paying the medical bills for sick and injured cats, and finding forever homes for those cats, the Balam Foundation focuses on the source by going into impoverished communities, performing sterilization campaigns free of charge. Recently, the Foundation has also become responsible for El Santuario Felino Rey Ashoka, A.C. and its ~150 cats, as its founder has fallen ill. Within a very short time, Phaedra’s duties have grown exponentially.


Phaedra Barratt is motivated by a deep sense of love and compassion for the cats she helps. Her goal is to change the destiny of every cat she has the honor of fostering, delivering “happily ever after” endings for each foster she places.

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