Recently we were lucky enough to receive this blog from Philippa, a UK based vet nurse who volunteered out on our Goa mass vaccination drive in 2019. Read onwards to hear about her experience with Mission Rabies...
"My story begins with the Wheelhouse Veterinary Centre asking for a volunteer to help them raise awareness of the charity Mission Rabies. I jumped at the opportunity and was accepted to join the team on one of their vaccination drives.
A place became available in Goa, India, to help with the upcoming Mission Rabies’ mass drive. The project start date rolled around and on arrival in Goa the project leaders, Amy, Heléna and Julie, told all the volunteers the shocking statistic that 99% of all human rabies deaths are as a result of a dog bite. Despite rabies being 100% vaccine-preventable, there is no cure for rabies once clinical symptoms develop. This fact stayed with me as I interacted with families and children over the following two weeks.
Our home base was in the Benaulim region of Goa, with our project area reaching out to the surrounding areas. In total, there were twelve volunteers in our group – this included vets, vet nurses and some who had no prior veterinary experience from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada and the United States. From there, our project leaders split us into smaller groups, each of whom would have a different role to play in the vaccination drive.
Our daily routine for the next two weeks proved to be as rewarding as it was challenging. A 6:20AM meet was followed by solid vaccination work until 12pm, the only stop was for a quick, traditional Goan breakfast at 9AM. Following a lunch break, we were back out in the communities of Goa working hard to locate and vaccinate any dog we set eyes on until 6PM, by which time we had averaged around ten miles of walking! Following this, dinner was held with the rest of the volunteers which gave us the opportunity to share stories from the days work.
Sadly, on the final day of the two-week project, a cyclone hit – unfortunately, this meant that the final day of vaccinating was cancelled for safety reasons – but it did mean that our lunchtime party was extended to celebrate the end of the mass drive!
The trip gave me an opportunity to take in the stunning environment in Goa. Our team found dogs in so many different locations; from tourist-filled beaches on the west coast to busy residential streets. Some of the buildings in this area were painted in traditional bright and vibrant colours, with others being quite minimalistic – but were equally as interesting. Unintentionally, my Mission Rabies trip had turned out to be an amazing way of seeing this incredible country."