Newly-wed couple, Elizabeth (ex-Abbotsleigh girl, 2005) and husband, Paul Jenkins are planning to do a mix of travel and volunteer work this year. Married last year in Feb 2015, “We started dating half way through first year uni in 2006.” Both veterinarians, they decided this is something they would love to do together, “We are in a unique position where our skills and training can be used to really make a difference to communities”.
Elizabeth and Paul will be volunteering at an animal shelter called Santisook in Thailand, focusing mainly on rescuing, sterilising and vaccinating dogs. Dogs are breed out of control, with many puppies and adults suffering and succumbing to malnutrition and viral illnesses. With rabies being a real threat in Thailand, as many as 40 people are killed each year and 450,000 being treated after dog bites. Once sterilised and vaccinated, the population will work itself to a sustainable number. The most expensive elements are the drugs used for sedation, vaccines, and vet payments.
We will spend three weeks volunteering at Santisook where we will be doing a lot of desexing of animals, some catch/neuter/release programs and treating injured and sick animals - predominantly dogs and cats. Following Thailand, we will go to Blantyre, Malawi to volunteer at another shelter doing similar programs for two weeks. Then following the volunteer work in Malawi, we will be travelling in Africa and Europe for personal travel.
We both went straight from school to uni and then into work. We have also just finished a lot of postgraduate study so we feel it is time for some travel and thought it would be a good opportunity to do some valuable volunteer work overseas.
For six years, Santisook has been rescuing the worst cases off the streets and spent millions of baht rehabilitating them in local private clinics. They are finishing the construction of their new, and first, rescue clinic and will soon be able to provide care to many more homeless animals in need, as well as providing free/at cost care for animals of the local rural poor.
While the Jenkins are with us, we are planning a special sterilisation multi day event with a group of 80 feral dogs living just outside of Chiang Mai city
Volunteer vets like the Jenkins are going to be working side by side with part-time Thai vets, vets from the local Department Of Livestock, and vet students from around the world. This type of cross cultural exchange of professional skills and ideas is so beneficial to the students, who get to learn from experienced practitioners, the local vets who learn new techniques, and for the foreign volunteer vets who experience working with limited resources in sometimes downright challenging conditions.
Santisook welcomes volunteers from around the world. “While we always love to have vets and nurses/ techs, regular animal lovers who want to work hard and help out are also more than welcome. We operate solely on donations, so they are always welcomed too.” Stephanie St Pierre, Santisook volunteer.