“The experience of a lifetime”: Volunteering in Malawi

Post by

emily king

January 18th 2018

Last year, Lauren Dodd volunteered on our project in Blantyre, Malawi, putting her skills into practice by helping us vaccinate owned and stray dogs in the area.  This is her blog about the Mission Rabies experience.


First and foremost, the project was amazing! The team, including the Mission Rabies staff and volunteers, was incredible. The most difficult part was waking up incredibly early after a very full day, but it was completely worth it. We started the day off by collecting supplies at the BSPCA then heading off to our assigned location with our team. We vaccinated dogs and some cats at static stations where it was wonderful to see so many local citizens ready to get their pets vaccinated against rabies. There were even a few people who still had their vaccination cards from the campaign last year. When we were not at a specified location, our team were assigned an area to cover. We walked door to door in various rural and urban localities to vaccinate dogs that were not brought to the static stations. I vaccinated dogs, cats, and even a monkey! If needed, I even helped restrain animals as well to ensure minimal stress and efficient vaccinations.

Being a public health student, it was interesting to be a part of and see epidemiological surveillance taking place first hand. I learned more about this aspect while working with the Mission Rabies staff, discussing the app and how we were using the information to help the mission.  I also learnt how to play Bao, a traditional African board game!

Malawi is a beautiful country. Outside of the urban city centre, there is a lot of untouched natural beauty that I was able to experience in a way I would never have, if it was not for this trip. I saw some beautiful sunrises, some of the best that I’ve ever seen! Our living quarters were decent and in a very scenic location but the hot humid weather reminded me of my home town.

The people of Malawi were so nice and very helpful.  I was surprised by how many people waited in line to receive rabies vaccinations for their pets. There were times when the line was wrapped around the whole building.  

My many highlights include being part of a One Health mission, meeting wonderful new people, experiencing a new culture and of course helping dogs and communities in a place that really needed it.

I’d most definitely go on a project with Mission Rabies again! I have already spoken to our public health veterinarians about the trip and many students have shown interest from a clinical and epidemiological perspective. Other veterinarians in the area have also show interest in helping Mission Rabies. The Mission Rabies Staff is a great team to work with. From their wonderful fun personalities to their professionalism, they made this a trip I will not soon forget. I cannot say thank you enough for this amazing time! 

From a fun, cultural, and one health aspect, working with Mission Rabies was the experience of a lifetime. 

If you've been inspired by Lauren's experience, and want to join our next mission, we're recruiting for volunteers for a multi-location city wide drive and lake outreach programme in Malawi now!! Find out more here.