‘I am a qualified veterinary nurse and I have been nursing for 25 years. I love my job and have always found it rewarding, and I can't imagine ever not working with animals. In the past I have worked with a variety of different animals, including domestic pets, farm animals, and larger animals in a zoo environment. I have always enjoyed travel and my holidays have often included seeing different species of animals whilst I am there!
The reason that I decided to volunteer with Mission Rabies was actually due to my boss' at Pinfold Vets. They wanted to thank me for my hard work and commitment over the years by sending me on a volunteering trip. I then spoke to Chris at London Vet Show, last year, who told me all about the campaign.
After several months of organising vaccinations, visas, and travel with the help of the Mission Rabies team I finally got on the plane to Cambodia. I was a little nervous, as although I have travelled on my own before, I hadn't been involved in a volunteering campaign before, so I wasn't sure quite what to expect.
Our days were long and tiring, mainly due to the heat, but no one minded as we were all there to achieve the same thing: to vaccinate as many dogs as possible in the 10 days we were there. The days started with a 6am breakfast, then we all headed to the hub together to get our supplies for the day, meet our tuk tuk driver and vet student who we worked with all week, and were given our areas of work for that day.
Our aim was to vaccinate at least 100 dogs per day. We all soon got into the swing of things and a bit of healthy competition between the teams got us working even harder to beat our target every day. My student and driver were really enthusiastic, and between us we were determined to do well. We would often cut our lunch breaks short and work right up until the last minute before going back to the hub to try and vaccinate as many dogs as possible.
There were a couple of days we even got a local policeman/village chief to help us; they took us to the houses they knew had dogs and made sure owners were ready for us. This saved us so much time and those were the days we hit over 130 vaccinated dogs. We then shared this tip with the rest of the teams so hopefully they could do the same. We would return to the hotel around 7pm after restocking our kit for the next day. The evenings were then our own. We met for dinner together and it was always nice to hear the experiences and stories from other volunteers.
The highlight for me was knowing what we were doing was going to make a difference, and talking to the WVS team about other campaigns that have resulted in a massive reduction in rabies cases. Also, the majority of the dog owners were so grateful, and we were often given cold drinks which were very gratefully received!
I had never been to Cambodia or any part of Asia before. Phnom Penh was as I excepted - busy, hot and noisy! But the city was quite different to the outer provinces we were vaccinating in. I also travelled to M'pai bay which is on an Island called Koh Rong Sanloem. That was incredibly beautiful and just what was needed after a busy week vaccinating. We enjoyed time on the beach, swimming and walking around the Island, and it was also nice to meet some of the other volunteers I hadn't had chance to meet before.
If anyone was thinking about volunteering with Mission Rabies, I would definitely tell them to go for it. I loved my time in Cambodia. I met some amazing people who all had the same goal in mind - not all were veterinary qualified either which is great as it means the trips are open to a wide range of volunteers. You will love it, and feel like you have made a difference, all whilst experiencing different cultures and making new friends.
The trip definitely opened my eyes to scale of the rabies issues around the world. I think as it isn't a problem in the UK, we don't always think about it too much. I now know that we can eradicate rabies if we can continue to vaccinate as many dogs as possible, and no human or animal would have to suffer from this hideous disease in the future. We need as many people as possible to be aware and offer their time to such an incredible cause. We really can make a difference. I wouldn't hesitate to volunteer again in the future, and hope I get the opportunity to do so.’
Just like Amy, you too can get involved and make a difference! Find out more about volunteering with us here.