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Superhero Spotlight: ITC India, Dr. Aswin Alis

Fri 4th Aug 2017

Spanning the globe, WVS develop and manage international veterinary programmes for the benefit of animals & communities worldwide. In our Superhero Spotlight series, we profile the vets who are elevating our reputation through the work they do. This week the spotlight is on Dr Aswin Alis from India, who has been working for WVS since 2013. Aswin has been driving forward our work in the donkey outreach clinics, combining his love for travel and exploring new places with his skills in helping animals as a veterinary surgeon.

How did you get in the role?

I finished vet school in 2012 and wanted to work with NGOs. I joined an NGO in Tirupur, Tamil Nadu who sent me to Ooty for WVS training. This is how I got in touch and I then volunteered for Mission Rabies. I joined WVS in May 2013 and have now been here for four years and I have been enjoying each and every moment!

What do you have to say about this quote? “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” (Mahatma Gandhi)

That’s what we do here at WVS! We work 24/7 for the animals. We support those who can’t express themselves through words, we understand their emotions and help them out when they have no one else.  A good example of this is the many wound cases we see in domestic or stray animals, and at our donkey outreach clinics. We do bandaging and flushing and it’s really nice to see how the wound closes in a few days and the drastic improvement we can see after a few weeks. When the final result is a well healed wound, I feel really satisfied, and I know I have made a real difference to the animal’s wellbeing.

What has been the highlight of your career?

Meeting the family from Karamadai who earn their livelihood from donkeys really fascinated me. There are three brothers and a sister, and they all work with donkeys. The sister used to take the donkeys to collect clothes from people for laundry and she also used to sell donkey milk. The three brothers work together and use the animals in farms for transporting materials. So the donkeys really are vital for the family’s work and I have never seen a family who love their animals so much. I’m just so glad I can use my skills to help them. You can read the full story of the donkey outreach programme here.

I have also always wanted to learn and understand more about animal welfare, a passion that led me to join the distant learning course from the University of Edinburgh. I’ve loved being able to put this new knowledge into practice in the outreach clinics and help more animals such as this family.

What is the most challenging part of the job?

The most challenging part is keeping updated with the newest techniques and treatment practices. The flap techniques for wound closures have been particularly challenging but really test my skills which is amazing! I am really grateful to all the participants and volunteers who come here - they teach me much more than I teach them! I feel like I am more of a student here than a trainer most of the time!

How would you explain WVS to someone new?

WVS is the place to work if you want to acquire knowledge alongside experience. The training is like a University on its own. We learn first, practice later by using these skills for real lifesaving work, and finally we teach. There isn’t a dull moment! Whether it is out at the donkey camps, improving their health through treating colic or harness wounds, or educating the families, to working at the ITC to improve surgical skills, we are always busy learning and helping the animals! It is the place to be for those who want to do something useful in society and thus make their life more meaningful by giving back to those who need it most.