ABC – Animal Birth Control.
It works. And it matters to both animal and human health.
I wouldn’t have believed you if you’ve told me 5 years ago that I would be a final year vet student. I certainly wouldn’t have thought I would find myself in the middle of India during the summer of my 4th year as a volunteer for a spay and neuter clinic.
Before my trip, I was excited but also scared out of my mind. I would be in a training centre in a country where I knew no one and no one knew me. What if something happened on the trip? What if I couldn’t get alone with anyone there? What if halfway through, I became so homesick I wanted to call it quits? And worse, what if I get the famous traveller’s diarrhoea without a flushing toilet?
There were a lot of ups and downs during the trip, that’s for sure. And yes, I was without a flushing toilet for 2 days. But undeniably, I learned a lot. I learned to always have a backup plan. Kudos if you have a backup plan for your backup plan because if there is one thing you can count on is that things do not always go according to plan. The train to take me to the airport got cancelled – without notification from the train company, I might add, so that was a fun start to my trip. I might have shed a few tears of frustration then but I also met some wonderfully kind people because of that.
I also learned a lot about India and the local vets at WVS. Undeniably, there are a lot of differences in the working conditions compared to the UK. For one, you have to deal with a lot of power cuts and water outages while performing multiple surgeries per day. It makes you realise how fortunate you are to never have to worry about not having water, especially when you need a visit to the loo. You also have less access to advanced diagnostics and referral centres. But at the same time, there are lots of similarities that I want to point out – everyone wanted to do their best for their patients and everyone faced the same dilemma when trying to deal with difficult financial situations without compromising animal welfare.
All in all, the vets at WVS are amazing. Being able to operate in harsh conditions while still maintaining animal welfare is not an easy feat. And I am happy to say I learned a lot from them. Training was hard in the beginning – it felt like I had to hit the ground running when I had never done surgery before. I struggled both emotionally and physically from jet lag. There were several nights where I had little to no sleep. I guess the two weeks in India taught me that I can handle more than I realise. And do more than I realise. It is an experience I will never forget and one that I hope I will be able to draw strength from in the future.