Sightseeing and Sterilisations: Vet Nurse Volunteering in Malawi

Michelle Mahy, a RVN from Ayrton Vet Hospital in Scotland, recently swapped clinic life for our project in rural Blantyre, assisting our sister charity with their Malawi vaccination campaign by treating the local animal population. Find out how she found the project in her blog below…

I have always wanted to use my vet nursing skills in a volunteering capacity, so was very excited for my first opportunity through WVS. Never having been to Africa before, I had no idea what to expect as I took off from Heathrow to Blantyre, Malawi.One of the other lovely volunteers met us at the airport to take us to the BSPCA in town. Both of the main roads were closed due to lorries being overturned so we had to take a very bumpy dirt back road which I found very exciting and a great way to be introduced to the rural reality of Blantyre!

On the outreach days, we set up basic “operating theatres” in rural classrooms with no power or running water. Our day started at 6am and often didn’t finish until near 6pm. These were the most exhausting but the most rewarding days, testing our skills in some of the most challenging situations I’ve ever faced in my veterinary career. As a team of five (two vets, two RVNs and one local VN), we managed to neuter 40-50 dogs (and the occasional cat brought to us in a sack!). This was a massive team effort, and we deserved the title of the Neutering Ninjas! We continued the sterilisations and other more involved treatments at the clinic in Blantyre’s city centre during the week.

Outside of the work, Malawi also offers some great sightseeing opportunities. Majete Wildlife Reserve is the best place to do a game safari and early boat ride along the river to see hippos and crocodiles in their natural habitat. Mount Mulanje is also worth a visit even if it is just to the waterfall for a refreshing dip in its cool waters! Malawi is also known for their tea and coffee so visiting a beautiful tea plantation is a must. Last and most importantly, Lake Malawi! I had the most relaxing time at Cape Maclear, with plenty of water activities followed by restful afternoons in a hammock with a good book! It was an adventure, and one that I would definitely do again. It offered so much more than a holiday and I really felt like we’d made a difference in a part of the world that really needs it.

Fun aside, it can seem like a daunting task, but working alongside Mission Rabies and the rest of the hardworking team at the BSPCA and WVS volunteers, you can make a real difference to the lives of dogs and the people of Malawi, who otherwise would not have access to the safe and effective treatments we offer. I can’t wait to get back and do it all over again!

If you'd like to explore Malawi and volunteer as a vet or vet nurse with our team in Blantyre, click here. 

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