Stephanie Writer-Davies has been a long-term supporter of Mission Rabies, and is currently fundraising for her upcoming trip to Goa to help on our mega vaccination drive! Here is her blog:
I'd been thinking for some time about using my veterinary skills in a voluntary capacity to help animals in need in countries where access to treatment is very different from here in the UK. As the owner of a veterinary practice and mum of two daughters I haven't really had time, but now my kids are grown up and the practice is able to look after itself without me needing to be there every day, I find myself able to step back a bit and potentially get away for longer than a week at a time.
Last year I was President of the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons and I was invited by Mission Rabies to join the last week of the vaccination drive in Blantyre, Malawi, as one of several VIP guests, to get a chance to see the charity in action and help promote it back in the UK.
The group of VIPs also attended some presentations and meetings talking about rabies, its transmission and control, and we had a tour of the local hospital and the Blantyre SPCA facilities. The tour of the hospital had a profound effect on me; I couldn't believe the level of overcrowding, how basic the facilities were, and the lack of treatments that we would take for granted in the UK.
I was impressed by the way Mission Rabies works when I saw it for myself in Malawi and particularly impressed by how much of a difference vaccinating dogs makes, not only to the lives of dogs, but also to the lives of the people they live amongst. It is a real 'One Health' initiative that impacts whole communities and the animals and people within them.
Since visiting Malawi I have actively promoted the charity at some of our SPVS meetings and as well as encouraged people to consider volunteering (or for practice owners to consider allowing their staff time off to volunteer). The society has raised money at social events and managed to get some equipment donated to the Veterinary Lab in Blantyre.
In addition, I decided that I would aim to volunteer to help with the vaccination drives each year if I can. I had intended to go back to Malawi, or volunteer in Uganda or Tanzania, but unfortunately the timing didn't work for my business or family commitments. So I decided on Goa and am very excited that I will finally be visiting India, a place that I've always wanted to see, whilst doing something useful and really making a difference!
Over the next few years, I hope to join Mission Rabies on at least one project each year - hopefully I'll gradually work my way round all of them; a different way to see the world!
If you've been inspired by Stephanie's story and would like to support her Mission Rabies journey, please donate to her justgiving page and help support animals who need it most!