Michelle, a registered veterinary nurse (RVN) from Scotland, swapped clinic life just outside of Edinburgh for rural work in Malawi. Here she is to tell you about her adventure at the Blantyre SPCA.
"I have always wanted to use my vet nursing skills in a volunteering capacity, so was very excited about my first opportunity through WVS. Never having been to Africa before, so I had no idea what to expect as I took off from Heathrow to Blantyre, Malawi."
"When we arrived, 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 6:00am and often didn’t finish until near 6:00pm. 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! During the week, we continued the sterilisations and other more involved treatments at the clinic in Blantyre’s city centre."
"Outside 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 its 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 charities like WVS and BSPCA, you can make a real difference to animals in 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’ve been inspired by Michelle’s experience and feel ready to get hands-on with helping animals in Malawi, take a look at our volunteer placements in the Blantyre clinic or a wildlife experience in the neighouring Majete Wildlife Reserve.