Join our campaign to make Goa the first rabies-free state in India!
Last year our incredible teams made the seemingly impossible possible. They worked their way through every taluka in the state of Goa and vaccinated 70% of the dogs in the entirety of Goa in just 1 year! Our project is an amazing opportunity for vets, students, nurses and non-vets to take on the challenge of mass vaccination; providing lifesaving protection for stray, owned and roaming dogs and the human communities that they live alongside!
You'll be based in the coastal district of Bardez, in the north-western part of Goa, working in teams across assigned wards to achieve the 70% vaccination coverage needed to create herd immunity. You will be trained to use our state-of the art epidemiological Mission Rabies App, used to collect vital vaccination and dog population data and ensure that our work is scientifically robust. Working alongside an experienced local team, you'll see beyond the tourist beaches and use your skills at the heart of communities.
You will be working alongside local vets and volunteers who share our passion for rabies elimination and protecting the local communities. You don’t have to be a vet to participate in this project as it is suitable for all volunteers, but you should be comfortable around dogs.
|Suitability:||Vets, Vet Nurses, Vet Students, Vet Nurse Students, Non-Vets|
£560 for two weeks campaign participation + £350 fundraising contribution
Please contact us for rates should you wish to stay for the full four weeks on the programme.
There will be the opportunity for optional overnight Goa Experience trips*
*please note the trips are paid directly to the in-county operator and include transport, accommodation, food and some activities. More information closer to the project date.
The campaign participation fee covers the cost of accommodation, soft drinks and meals, project related travel and your airport transfers. On application you will be asked for a deposit of £200 to secure your place, this is deducted from the overall campaign participation fee. We ask all of our volunteers to raise a minimum of £350 to support the work of Mission Rabies. This fundraising contribution supports the operations and sustainability of our programmes. Please read our Fundraising Guidelines, Volunteer Information Pack, and Terms and Conditions in the resources section to get more information about fundraising and volunteering for Mission Rabies.
You will be responsible for covering the costs of your visa, flights, insurance and travel vaccinations.
Select the project block you wish to apply for
Being a Mission Rabies Volunteer
The nature of field work means that each day can be difficult to predict, and being able to ‘go with the flow’ is essential! That said, by coordinating ahead of time and building contingency plans we strive to make the potentially challenging job of vaccinating hundreds of dogs a day, go as smoothly as possible. You will receive a thorough training before you start on your first day. The field work is not always predictable but this makes it very diversified.
Reading through our volunteer blog posts and the FAQ section of the homepage will help you to get an idea about what it is like to volunteer with us. We can also get you in touch with former volunteers if you have more detailed questions and of course our staff are more than happy to answer all the questions you might have.
Of course we do want you to be as prepared as possible, so we would like to highlight some of the more challenging parts of volunteering here:
Transport and Accommodation
You will be collected from the airport by Mission Rabies and we will arrange any work-related travel for you. Don’t worry if you are delayed, you will still be collected. If you are delayed on your return home, where possible we will attempt to accompany and assist you, however this may not be possible as many of our staff will also be returning to the UK themselves.
The standard of the roads, vehicles and driving in India may be less than you are used to. We conduct vehicle safety and driver checks for all the vehicles we use but this is something you should be aware of. The accommodation, although not luxurious, is clean, comfortable and safe and our previous volunteers have been very happy there.
Early start times — the working days are long therefore the teams typically wake up early in the morning at about 5 or 6 am to get into the field to start work at 7am.
Long Days - Our Mission Rabies teams work from dawn to dusk to protect as many people as possible from this deadly disease. This being said, it can get very hot in Goa, all the teams will return to the accommodation for lunch and to have a break away from the midday sun.
Sharing Rooms – To ensure we can get as many volunteers in the field as possible and keep the in-country costs low for you, you may be sharing a room with another volunteer. These are single sex and if you specifically request to have a single room this may be arranged but it will be at an extra cost. If you travel with a friend we can accommodate you together, otherwise we are certain you will make new friends in no time.
Personal Safety - Like at home, the majority of people you meet are friendly and not a danger, however it is always good to use your common sense. Never go anywhere unaccompanied and keep your belongings safe, out of sight and locked away. We advise you not go out at night and always make sure you carry a copy of your passport with you. Follow the advice of the Mission Rabies staff and our local team and you will have a safe and enjoyable experience.
Dog Handling - You should be comfortable around dogs. There are some owners who need assistance as they cannot handle their dogs. Whilst we have trained local dog handlers in every team in some circumstances you may have to help hold, lift or treat strange dogs. In the past volunteers have not had a problem with this but it is important to mention.
Emotional Trauma - This might sound melodramatic but there is a chance that you will witness suffering, be it human or animal, while on this project. You cannot know how you will react to seeing a dog suffering from a terrible case of mange or with a fractured leg because it was hit by a car or seeing people in need. While some of you might have experience with different health and living standards, other might not. It is perfectly normal to feel a range of emotions in response to this. We can help support you and ensure that all the hard work you put into this project makes a long lasting change to the lives of people and animals you meet.
Food — We hope you like Indian food, because the variety of spices you will find in Goa is incredible. If you don’t, it can be quite a challenge, since western style dishes are usually not available. As an animal welfare project we do not provide meat but only vegetarian meals. However, the vegetarian food available is safe, clean and delicious. Specific allergies can be discussed with our team - please do mention them upon your application.
Climate — There is no other way to put it: Goa can get very hot and sweaty. October is technically in the dry season, with temperatures usually between 25-31°C. However, it isn’t rare to be caught in the occasional monsoon down-pour! We will make sure that you have plenty of fresh, clean, safe water throughout the day. Remember to pack high factor sun cream and a hat.
Physical work — Days can be very physically challenging. You must be able to walk at least 15 km a day over rough hilly terrain in hot sunny weather. You should make sure you come prepared for walking over such terrain so sturdy walking shoes are highly recommended. Make sure you look after yourself, wear high factor sun screen, wear a sun hat and drink plenty of water. It isn’t called an expedition for nothing!
Overall, the days are long but rewarding – each dog vaccinated is one more protected against rabies - which in turn saves the lives of local people. You will usually receive a warm welcome from the residents of Goa and most families are polite, kind and really grateful for the work we are doing to protect their communities from rabies. In return we do expect that our volunteers respect the local culture and act on such manner.
In the evening you will have time to catch up with the rest of the volunteers, share your stories and the experience you made during the day. Our staff members will be available if you have questions or concerns about anything.
We will have a two day break in the middle of the vaccination campaign, giving you some time to relax and explore the area. For these days, there will be an optional trip you can go on. More information will follow on that!
Volunteering in India
India is made up of 29 states, each with their culture, identities and often own language. 1.2 billion people live here, in a country with a well-deserved reputation for extremes – wealth juxtaposed with poverty, modernity right next to antiquity. Many have written about the way in which all of one’s senses seem to be overwhelmed as soon as you arrive in an Indian city. The country is a wealth of incredible food, culture, colour, sound and activity. If you have not been to India before – or have not travelled to similar countries – it can be a challenging place to travel and work. That said, the deep history here – artistic, architectural, religious, musical, scientific, political, medical, and much more – often creeps out of the chaos in subtle and beautiful ways that will make you smile and leave you awestruck every day. India definitely gets under your skin and travelling to this part of the world is an experience you will never forget! Many of our past volunteers have returned to work with us again and again!
You’ll be working in Goa, a tourist friendly state known for its beaches, beautiful forests, and relaxed ways of life. Formally a Portuguese province, the surviving architecture is distinctly Goan and many of the old churches are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Goa is famously summed up by the Konkani word ‘sussegad’, meaning ‘laid-back’ and is much less chaotic than many images of India! It is well set up for tourists, with a good range of food available, internet access and western standard amenities.
In terms of language, English is commonly spoken in cities, as are the state’s two languages Konkani and Marathi, although the majority of our dog catchers speak Hindi. Mission Rabies will work to be sure that coordinators on the team will have — at minimum — a working knowledge of English so as to be able to communicate effectively with volunteers. However, learning a few choice phrases before you come out is a great way to be a part of the city and get the most out of the unique culture here; even learning simple phrases such as “hello” and “thank you” can be extremely helpful for connecting with the local people that you will be meeting and working with. Plus, the children will love it.
As is always the case when travelling and working in an unfamiliar place, challenges are bound to arise and your flexibility and ability to ‘go with the flow’ will make all the difference. If you are open-minded and try to soak up as much as possible of this diverse culture, you will profit from this experience as much as the local communities you are helping.
As someone who has devoted a considerable amount of time and resources to come join us, you most likely have a particular passion for animals. Many of the dogs you will encounter will be in surprisingly good condition, having learned to evade the speeding cars, find shelter from the elements, and forage for food amongst the rubbish. Still, there will be plenty of things that are potentially upsetting; it is not uncommon to encounter animals with broken legs, in thin body condition, suffering from diseases which have been eradicated from the Western world and/or covered with parasites. Depending on the circumstances and severity, we aim to provide basic treatments to alleviate suffering, but we will not be able to do so in every case. In addition, owned dogs do not tend to hold the same position in the “family” as is often found in western countries. It is common to find owned dogs that live much of their lives outside the house — possibly tied up. We will always work to educate people about basic husbandry and welfare requirements. Nevertheless we ask you always engage with the local communities in a respectful manner.
Euthanasia carries a lot of weight no matter what the circumstances. It tends to be a very weighty issue in India and is not nearly as commonly performed as it is in most western countries. Mission Rabies believes in the appropriate employment of euthanasia for the purpose of ending suffering in animals for which reasonable treatment options are not available. Euthanasia decisions are handled on a case-by-case basis, led by Indian-qualified vets and local organisers are always involved in these decisions.
General Safety Considerations
India is generally a safe place to travel and the majority of tourist visits are trouble-free. Just as you would do when travelling anywhere, following certain rules will help to ensure your safety.
Never travel alone, if you are going somewhere make sure you have company and make sure you inform your team leader and the volunteer coordinator. You will sometimes be working in areas where people may not be used to seeing tourists so you will probably attract a lot of interest from local people – you’ll get used to being asked to pose for photos! Make sure that when you’re out and about that you keep an eye out for the rest of your team and stay together – the bright yellow Mission Rabies t-shirts are helpful for spotting your team members. Be aware of your belongings and never leave them simply lying around.
While there will always be crimes and problems that make the headlines, these are extremely rare, given the size of the country and the population living here. In our survey of previous volunteers, they answered almost unanimously that they felt safe at all times while working and that the Indian team members had made every effort to prevent problems. The Indian teams are very proud to have you visiting and working with them, so they will really look after you!
General Health and Safety
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have contacted a medical professional and/or travel clinic at least 6-8weeks before the date of the project. You must ensure you have all the necessary vaccinations, that they are up to date and that you get any boosters in sufficient time. Please also inform us of any medical conditions you have, or in case you have any questions about your ability to participate, so that we are aware of them, can discuss them with you and can make any necessary provisions.
The NHS has a helpful website for travelling, http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk, that can provide you with advice but this should only be used in conjunction with, and not instead of seeking medical advice from your medical practitioner/local travel clinic.
You must ensure you have suitable travel insurance for the project and for any additional activities you that you may choose to do.
Mission Rabies carries out a risk assessment ahead of the project. You shall be informed of the important aspects prior to departure and will have an in-country briefing about general health and safety, as well as more information about the nature of the work. Medical facilities are unlikely to be/may not be of the same standard that you are used to and are often less accessible than at home. As part of our risk assessment, we identify suitable hospitals and medical facilities prior to the project starting in case we need to use them.
Food and Water Safety
Yes, it’s true! People who are not native to India certainly have a greater chance of catching various “bugs” from the water and from certain foods. As a rule, we recommend that you stay away from tap water and rely instead on bottled and/or purified water (which will be provided). With regard to food, we will provide clean, safe food for each of your meals. We recommend consulting your physician to discuss treatments that you can bring along and signs to look out for when travelling. Many people have said that steering clear of eating meat will go a long way in preventing illness; anecdotally this does appear to have been true for many of our previous volunteers so far.
While you are welcome to purchase alcoholic beverages when available at the hotel/restaurant, costs for these will not be covered by Mission Rabies.
Vaccine Requirements and Recommendations
In order to participate with Mission Rabies, we require proof of rabies vaccination within the past two years or proof of adequate titre within the last three months. Proof of current tetanus vaccination is required as well. Regarding other vaccines, we strongly recommend that you consult with your physician or a travel medicine clinic prior to coming to India and decide whether additional vaccinations or preventatives are indicated.
India does have endemic malaria. We strongly recommend that you consult your physician and/or travel clinic to discuss options and indications for an adequate anti-malarial while you are in India. We also advise you pack a mosquito net, repellent and wear long sleeves and trousers in the evenings to reduce the chance of insect bites.
Using insect repellent is advised in any case as preventative measure. Dengue Fever which is also transmitted by mosquitos is a risk in the country. Being precautious is essential since there is no treatment available. Ask your physician/ travel clinic about appropriate repellents.
Dog Bite Protocols
Mission Rabies takes dog bites and potential rabies exposure very seriously. We follow strict protocol in line with the latest WHO recommendations in the case of dog bites. Post-exposure prophylaxis is readily available in India so injections can be obtained if they are needed. You will be briefed before you travel and in-country on our procedures for your own protection and there will always be a member of Mission Rabies staff to help.
You are not alone!
Mission Rabies is well aware of the fact that travelling to India can be an overwhelming experience even for seasoned travellers and we want your volunteer experience here to be as rewarding and comfortable as possible. Our staff are more than happy to answer any questions that you have before you travel and there will be the Mission Rabies Leadership Team from the UK Head Office and from India on the drive to be your point of communication in-country. All of the Leadership Team have the competencies as required by our policies, including experience in similar environments, knowledge of rabies and specific training.
BS8848 Cooperate Compliance
Mission Rabies is a certified BS 8848 volunteering organisation. Mission Rabies has adapted their projects to a set framework, which evaluates risks in the countries of action. To be able to claim the status of ‘BS 8848 compliance’ an organisation has to implement all measures within the framework. Therefore, Mission Rabies evaluates the situation on the ground before sending international volunteers on projects. We conduct a strong risk assessment and have health and safety procedures in place, both in planning and during the project - volunteers' safety is our priority.
If you have any questions with regards to our BS 8848 accreditation please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Be a part of an amazing 10,000 dog vaccination drive to aid in the elimination of rabies in the whole state of Goa!
Join us in delivering life-saving vaccines, heading through the back-streets of beautiful Goa to help us protect generations from rabies!
|Suitability:||Vets, Vet Nurses, Vet Students, Vet Nurse Students, Non-Vets|
Wennappuwa, Sri Lanka
For the third year, we are offering the chance for volunteers to take part in our lifesaving project in Sri Lanka. It is a fantastic opportunity to join our team in Wenapura, just north of Colombo.
Discover the true Sri Lanka, walking door to door, identifying dogs and can getting involved in the day to day running of a vaccination campaign.
|Suitability:||Vets, Vet Nurses, Vet Students, Vet Nurse Students, Non-Vets|