Hands down one of my favorite parts of the trip was volunteering for an organization called HALO, which stands for Hoedspruit Animal Outreach. They consisted of a veterinarian, a veterinarian assistant and a translator. We first meet them outside of town, and then followed them into a rural community. When we first entered the community, the translator pulled out a megaphone and began to tell the community that a veterinarian was there to provide free medical care for their animals.
Once we arrived, we were all so overjoyed and could not believe our eyes. Before we even got the chance to set up there were already owners and about twenty dogs already there waiting for us. We got to spend some time petting and getting to know the dogs, and we were then filled in on our duties and certain symptoms and signs to look out for on the dogs. My group was first in charge of bathing dogs that were flea and tick infested. For many of us it was a big shock to see dogs in poor conditions, but we were also excited that we were given the opportunity to make a difference in the community.
Our second station consisted of giving physical examinations to dogs and identifying if they had been spayed or neutered. One of the challenges was that there was only one translator, and few locals that knew and understood english. We made the best out of the situation by using non verbal communication and just patiently working with the owners to get the message across. At this station we were taught how to give subcutaneous injections and take vitals.
Aside from such a great educational experience that we had, we were so thankful for the veterinarian that we got to work with. She was kind, approachable and as much as she wanted to help the community, she also was very passionate about teaching us and making sure we were comfortable in our roles. This experience just further emphasized how much I want to be a veterinarian, andmade me also consider taking a non profit route as a career, because I was so impressed with how much they did with so little resources.