Volunteer Spotlight: Clare and Sally in the Galápagos

Volunteer Spotlight: Clare and Sally in the Galápagos

At our Galápagos Animal Doctors clinic, our team treat sick and injured animals, deliver population control surgeries, train vets, and engage the community in animal welfare to help to restore the balance of nature on the islands. Sally (vet nurse) and her sister Clare (vet) recently volunteered at the clinic to help provide these essential services in this incredibly unique part of the world. Keep reading to hear about their volunteering experience on the Island of Santa Cruz.

"In February 2024 my sister Clare and I embarked on a trip to the Galápagos islands and two weeks volunteer work at Galápagos Animal Doctors with WVS. Clare and I are both from New Zealand. Clare is a veterinarian and I am a veterinary nurse. Some may call us a veterinary package deal!

This was my first volunteer experience; however it is Clare's second having carried out some voluntary work in Fiji at Pacific Animal Shelter and Hospital (PASH) with WVS. She had had an awesome time in Fiji and with WVS and so it was an easy choice as to which volunteer organisation to go through. The Galápagos Islands had always intrigued us especially with all its wildlife, and so when we found out we could carry out some voluntary work there we jumped at the opportunity.

We arrived on a Sunday, flying into the little airport on Isla Baltra. As soon as we stepped out of the airport we came upon our first iguana that was just chilling under a bush by the entrance! So cool! We were met at the airport by a friendly lady who had brought us tickets and helped us to get on a bus, followed by a boat and taxi to the Island of Santa Cruz and our accommodation. This was a very welcome treat after travelling around South America for the past few months where we had had some interesting times to say the least, trying to work out travel logistics with our very basic Spanish.

We were stoked with our accommodation at 'Galápagos Dreams', each getting our own air-conditioned room, amazing breakfasts each day, and it was only a very short walk to town, the clinic and beach. A swim at the beach in the morning before breakfast and work became our favourite routine! The hostel also had a very basic kitchen you could use, which we made use of to make some simple one pot wonders as eating out can be quite experience, especially when on a strict travel budget like us.

That Sunday afternoon we were shown around town and to the clinic with recommendations and sights pointed out to us along the way. We also met up with another super amazing volunteer vet who was to be volunteering at the same time as us. She very soon became a great friend who we had so much fun hanging out with, in and outside of work.

Our first day nerves were immediately put at ease upon arriving at the clinic on Monday morning when we were welcomed into the clinic by the friendly vets. The next two weeks then flew by, going way too fast! A typical day consisted of surgery in the mornings, and then consults in the afternoon. The surgeries performed were principally neuters, however during our time volunteering we also had lump removals, dog attack stitch-ups, and one surgery on sweet little cat who needed an enterectomy to remove a nasty obstruction.

We were thoroughly impressed by the clinic's standards with the staff always providing the best care they could with their resources, and always going above and beyond for their patients. They were such lovely people to work with, not to mention being awesome caring vets too. They spoke excellent English as well and were always happy to help us out if needed which made such a difference.

For the first week I was the only nurse which kept me busy, although all the vets were great at doing their best at 'nursey' jobs to help out! The second week we were joined by an awesome WVS nurse who was to work in the clinic for the next three months. So it was nice to have a fellow nurse around, as well as to have another buddy to explore the Islands with. We were also involved in doing some prep work for a neutering campaign the clinic was running. Unfortunately, the campaign started after we had left but so nice to do our small bit to help out another great cause. With only two weeks in the Galápagos Islands we made the most of every spare non-working moment to explore the Islands. We felt very safe and saw some of the coolest creatures ever!"

"We would highly recommend to any vet or vet nurse considering going to the Galápagos Islands, to volunteer with WVS at Galápagos Animal Doctors. Not only was the voluntary work an amazing, rewarding and unforgettable experience, but it was also made even better by the fact that we were surrounded by so much interesting wildlife, beautiful beaches and countryside. We extend a big shout out and thank you to the team at Galápagos Animal Doctors we well as to all the WVS team. You are all awesome!"

Looking for your own volunteering adventure?

Explore all of our volunteering opportunities from the Galápagos to Fiji. Read our volunteering FAQs to understand more about volunteering with us. We're here to help so please get in touch with any questions at volunteers@mail.volunteer.wvs.org.uk.

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