Mission Rabies does not just conduct huge mass-vaccination drives. One of our core activities to prevent rabies deaths, is educating communities and in particular children about responsible dog ownership and the dangers of dog bites and rabies. Our volunteer Hayley went out to our Goa project for the whole month of August last year, helping the team on their quest to save lives:
"When I first found out about Mission Rabies while searching for information about rabies online, I was instantly interested in the work they carry out. After I had the opportunity to meet with Luke and several of the Mission Rabies team, and hear all about the big yellow truck, the plans for rabies elimination and the dynamic way in which they work, I was hooked! At the time I was interning at the World Health Organization and my work was focused on global rabies control as well as other Neglected Zoonotic Diseases. With this experience, and a background in global health and neglected diseases I thought I had an appreciation of how neglected rabies was globally from the level of global governance right down to local levels in countries and communities where rabies went uncontrolled and there were many unreported deaths. I knew in detail about how the true burden of rabies was unknown and therefore figures have to be estimated as too often rabies goes untreated, undiagnosed and unreported. But none of this really hit home until I spent time in communities where rabies impacted everyday life.
Working with the education team in Goa was an experience that has truly changed my perception of the impact of rabies forever. Working with Dr Murugan, who's knowledge and enthusiasm for spreading the message of how to avoid rabies is infectious, and Glenda who brings a passion for controlling the disease in her home state provided a wonderful experience to both learn about the impact of rabies and to deliver the messages of how to avoid dog bites and prevent rabies. Watching the children engage with the message of how to avoid dog bites, and hearing from teachers in schools where some time had passed since the education team had visited that the children's attitude had changed towards the local dogs, highlights how a multi-level approach - such as the one Mission Rabies employs - to controlling this disease is imperative.
Working in the education team meant that we traveled around the state, to as many schools as we could in one day, to reach as many children as possible. This meant that as well as being able to be part of a team that would hopefully have a impact on the lives of young people and their behavior towards the numerous dogs in their communities for many many years, I was able to see and experience most of the state, and appreciate the beauty of the landscape of Goa as well as meeting many of the incredibly friendly people that live there. Not being a vet, working in the education team was a great way for me to engage in the mission rabies project overseas, but for anybody that has a passion about reducing the number of people that are bitten by dogs and the risk of rabies would appreciate the experience with the education team of Mission Rabies."