Registered veterinary nurse, Faye Clyne, recently gave her time to volunteer at the Pacific Animal Shelter and Hospital (PASH) located on the main island of Viti Levu in the Fiji Islands. PASH is a non-profit organisation working to improve the lives of animals in Fiji and offers the first modern, purpose-built animal hospital on the island. Faye also volunteered with WVS in 2019 at our project in Blantyre, Malawi. We are very grateful to Faye and all our incredible volunteers who change the lives of animals at projects around the globe. Read all about Faye’s latest volunteering mission below.
“I qualified as a Veterinary Nurse in 2013 from Edinburgh Napier University. I always liked the idea of working as a locum as it takes you to new clinics and countries, where there are lots of interesting people to meet! This is the same concept as volunteering in my eyes, with the added reward of offering your expertise to help animals that need it the most. I have followed the goings-on of WVS for about 10 years and in 2019 I volunteered at the clinic in Blantyre (Malawi) for two weeks, which was also incredible. The WVS website is full of all the information you need when starting to think about a project overseas and, in addition to this, the staff are always so helpful when emailing with queries."
"I was made to feel welcome instantly. The staff were always very helpful if I had any questions about the area or getting things."
"I was locuming in Australia at the time of deciding to travel and volunteer in Fiji. When I learnt how close Fiji is to fly to from Sydney, I knew I was going to make that happen! I decided to volunteer there for three weeks, and then have four days afterwards to explore some of the country. I was met at the airport by the practice manager and driven to the accommodation at PASH, which is next door to the clinic. I was made to feel welcome instantly. The staff were always very helpful if I had any questions about the area or getting things."
"My first day involved getting stuck into the work immediately. I helped the team with the patients staying in the hospital ward and the intake ward. The patients would have their kennels cleaned, given fresh bedding and receive their breakfast, along with any medication that was due. This was always a busy time as there were a lot of excitable patients wanting your attention! When I first started, the intake ward had a litter of puppies who were halfway through their quarantine period. Every healthy stray animal taken into the hospital needed to quarantine for two weeks, and then after this time, they would be neutered, microchipped, dewormed etc, and join the shelter side of PASH; making them ready for adoption. The hospital ward had many kittens suffering from cat flu. They had been removed from the catatorium (shelter cat's home!) for treatment until they stopped showing signs of the infection. There was a puppy called Grace recovering from a dog attack, who was paralysed down one side of her body. Several puppies from the shelter side had unusual ocular changes in their eyes and these were being observed and treated. There was also a very poorly, but fairly content and sweet (you know how cats can be!), owned cat with a severe eye mass and suspected FIP in the hospital. A lovely, compassionate nurse had permission from the owner to take the cat home for end of life and palliative care."
"Then it was time for surgery. I was asked to weigh some of the shelter kittens to check if they were ready for desexing, of which some were. There were also two owned dogs that were admitted for desexing. PASH had a clear protocol for their surgeries, including which pre-meds to use and doses to follow. All patients were intubated and then connected to gaseous anaesthetic. This would take us up to lunch time where everyone stopped for a break. The afternoon was busy with medicating inpatients, cleaning up after surgery including sterilising the surgical kits and then assisting the vets with many of their interesting cases from consults. The late afternoon would involve getting all inpatients clean bedding, dinner, and medications before the clinic closing at 5pm."
"The puppy I mentioned before, called Grace, received physiotherapy from myself and other members of the team several times a day during my three weeks there. I could not believe the improvement with her walking during that time! I even tried some hydrotherapy with her in a paddling pool! She was a lovely girl, and due to the huge team effort, support and encouragement, Grace was able to be a normal puppy again! PASH is a well-equipped clinic with an x-ray machine, microscope, ultrasound scanner, and solid standards in place. A superb, friendly and helpful team."
"The village was located in a small bay, with a stunning beach and surrounded by lush green mountains. My host cooked us interesting and traditional Fijian food, the children were always fun and happy to spend time with me, and a local walked up with me to a viewpoint at the top of one of the mountains."
"I had an incredible time in Fiji, I found the people to be welcoming to visitors, friendly and accommodating. I spent time outside of the clinic with another vet who was working there. Visiting Nadi town, the markets, the beach, the local running club, hiking to viewpoints and also to waterfalls. A lot of time was also spent playing with the young shelter puppies and of course sitting in with all the cats and kittens in the catatorium!! After I finished my volunteering stint, I had a few days to myself to explore before flying out of Fiji. I arranged to stay with a Fijian family on one of the Yasawan Islands (north of Nadi) for a few days. It was a visit I will never forget! The family, the village, and all the happy children were welcoming and happy to share their homes and traditions with me. The village was located in a small bay, with a stunning beach and surrounded by lush green mountains. My host cooked us interesting and traditional Fijian food, the children were always fun and happy to spend time with me, and a local walked up with me to a viewpoint at the top of one of the mountains. I would highly recommend staying on this island with the Fijian family!"
"I have learnt so much, professionally and personally, after my time at PASH, and every other volunteer trip."
"My advice for anyone thinking about volunteering is to MAKE IT HAPPEN! The fact that you are thinking about it, researching, and reading this article means that you are curious. I have learnt so much, professionally and personally, after my time at PASH, and every other volunteer trip. Shelter medicine for me is extremely rewarding and challenging in many ways, but most of all, I feel like I am making a difference in this world. I would be more than happy if anyone wanted to get in touch with me with any questions or advice. Please also get in touch with PASH directly to check if there is anything you can take with you. It's not always possible to get a hold of supplies in Fiji, and the cost of shipping to the country is very expensive."
PASH are looking for experienced vets and nurses to volunteer for a minimum 2-week period throughout the year. Find out more and apply online. We’re here to help, so please get in touch with any questions!