Missing her graduation ceremony at the University of Edinburgh to help the dogs of Goa, vet nurse Ellen Armstrong was part of Team Cobra who, every day, were out on the streets vaccinating dogs and educating the public about rabies. Find out more about the project and her incredible fundraising events prior to the trip!
What has the Mission Rabies Goa project been like?
I love how busy the days are! Every day you never know what to expect or what dogs you’ll find, but you know every vaccine we’re giving is doing some good out here. It’s also amazing to see so many local people involved. It feels like a real community working together to fight this deadly disease.
Why did you choose Mission Rabies?
I learnt about rabies whilst at University and wanted to do something about it. Just because it’s not really a problem in the UK, it doesn’t mean we should ignore it. It’s a deadly disease that can, and should, be prevented, so I wanted to do my part to help.
What’s been your highlight so far?
There’s one day that really sticks in my mind. We were walking through the streets and hadn’t seen any dogs for a while. But suddenly we heard loads of barking. Everyone was ready to go so we followed the sound! There was a rooftop school nearby and when we went in, we found 10 dogs just loitering in the classroom among all these children trying to do their lessons. It felt so rewarding to be helping these people, as the dogs were in such close proximity to the children. We were saving these children’s lives by ensuring the dogs are safe. It’s exactly why we’re here, to stop the spread of rabies by vaccinating the dogs, which then in turn prevents them biting the children.
What fundraising events did you host before the trip?
One way I fundraised for this amazing cause was by taking on the challenge of cycling the Great Glen Way. The mountain bikes were donated and we cycled through torrential rain at times. But despite a couple of injuries, we were undeterred and finished the challenge! I also hosted an Indian themed evening with a cooking lesson, DJ and Indian entertainment including a sitar player. The fundraiser night went really well and everyone seemed to have a great time. I managed to raise over £700 from the two events and it really helped spur me on for the project!
What’s surprised you most about Goa?
I was surprised at how helpful and friendly all the local people were in welcoming us. The level of acceptance the local community had for us being there was incredible and they were so happy for our help in vaccinating their dogs. It is this incredible rapport that Mission Rabies have developed with the community leaders and the way everyone works together that will help us to eliminate this disease and create a rabies-free Goa!