The day before yesterday marked the official start date of our mass vaccination drive, taking place across Bardez, in North Goa! The "yellow army" had assembled and our team of international volunteers had joined them - some still feeling the effects of jet-lag!
For our opening ceremony, we were very honoured to have the presence of representatives from the World Health Organization, the Animal Welfare Board of India, Edinburgh University, Worldwide Veterinary Service India, the Malawian Government, the Government of Goa, the National Institute for Mental Health and Neuro Science and our major sponsor, Dogs Trust.
Our CEO, Dr Luke Gamble, kicked off with an introduction to the work of Mission Rabies and the audience also had a chance to hear about the progress of the Goa project to date from Dr Kate Shervell, International Director, and Julie Corfmat, Goa Project Manager.
Besides this, we presented prizes to the winners of our school art competition - where children were tasked with designing a poster to demonstrate some of the key educational messages from the Mission Rabies campaign - the entries were of an incredibly high standard and we'll be printing the winning poster to display in schools around Goa!
One of our colleagues, the very talented, Dr Raj Goka, continued the artistic theme by producing a beautiful rangoli - traditional Indian sand art - of a gorgeous local breed Indian dog! We think he could have a new career, if he ever fancies a break from veterinary medicine!
Children from a local school also treated the audience to a well-rehearsed play about rabies, featuring a dog called Lyssa and her family!
To close the event, the Chief Minister of Goa addressed the room with a commitment to ensuring the State becomes rabies free and highlighted the role that managing the environment - in particular reducing available food waste - can have on stray dog management. We are hugely grateful for his support and that of the Government of Goa, which match fund our programme, allowing us to vaccinate across the entire State - around 50,000 dogs - annually.
We couldn't have got the month off to a better start and we are very excited to have 22 international volunteers joining our team of around 40 local staff, as they work their way across Bardez, targeting at least 10,000 dogs over the next four weeks!
Keep your eye on the Mission Rabies LIVE page for updates from the field and interactive maps to show our team's progress!