Today especially, I feel very proud to be a member of the Mission Rabies team. It was incredible to spend such an important day at one of our core projects. It is the perfect opportunity to promote our cause, our mass drive, and educate some children and adults along the way.
Our day started off at the Mapusa post office, where I listened to Dr. Murugan and Ashok (our permanent North Goa Education Officer) deliver a lesson. It even involved Dr. Murugan crawling around on the floor, pretending to be a dog and "attacking" Ashok! Throughout the lesson, the participants were informed of how integral they are in spreading our key messages:
- Rabies is dangerous
- How to prevent a dog bite
- First aid treatment for rabies
The postmen and women of Mapusa travel extensively through their taluk, and sometimes further. They encounter people from all walks of life, which is why passing this information on to them was so vital. It was a very encouraging start to the day. At the end of the lesson, we were rewarded with some tea and biscuits from the staff members which we gladly exchanged for education leaflets and posters for them to put up in their office and local communities.
After our first lesson of the day, we were quickly whisked away to the next one. This time, Ashok and I went to a school in Mapusa called Assagon Union High School. We taught 42 children there, who were a mixture of standards 7, 8 and 9 (aged 13 to 16). The children were great listeners and were very eager to learn more about what they could do to keep their local dog population safe, but also stable. This was a great opportunity to speak to them about waste management - a topic that is largely applicable to our Goa project, and how it has a direct impact on the roaming dog population.
We always make sure the children have as much fun as possible during these education lessons, as it can be quite draining learning about a vicious disease. Our fun components usually consist of acting, drawing on the chalkboard, question and answer sessions, and (most importantly) games. We ended this lesson with a game that taught the children what our vaccination campaign is trying to achieve by vaccinating 70% of the dog population, and how quickly rabies can spread through a community of un-vaccinated dogs.
Educating the next generation is essential for change. It is the children of today that are going to grow up and be the adults of tomorrow.
Today marks the 10th World Rabies Day in existence. It is an incredible milestone, but there is still a lot of work to be done and I'm excited to be a part of a project that is working to eliminate rabies in Goa.