We are back from Guatemala and we have plenty of good news. Our GAAP/Veterinarians International vet campaign was a success. School Day and Community Day were so much fun, and we got to catch up with our sponsored kids! Plus, our Dogs Trust Para-Veterinarian Project is taking a major step forward.
Todos Santos Veterinary Campaign Reaches More than 800 Animals and their Families!
This year’s 5-day veterinary campaign started on March 13, after spending the previous day setting up our temporary clinic. It was so nice reuniting with many old friends and a few new faces who joined us for this experience.
With the support of Humane Society International and partners Veterinarians International, our team of interdisciplinary professionals from the US, Canada, Chile and Guatemala managed to perform a total of 228 surgeries and 621 vaccinations! And not only that, but we saw how the community’s attitude towards their pets has slowly changed. They take better care of them, they are feeding them better and, as some of the volunteers noted, in previous years you’d see a few owners being aggressive towards them which now hardly ever happens. Knowing that our work in Todos Santos has had an effect on the people and the way they care for their animals makes us feel like it’s all worth it.
You can find out more about some of the professionals who worked on the campaign, including Dr. Scarlett Magda, founder of Veterinarians International, Melissa Payne & Patty Lechten– from GAAP Canada– and Heidi Sandoval & Dennys Marroquin from Guatemala by checking out all the stories and interviews we’ve collected during this trip. Stay tuned, as more stories will be posted and updated on this website as well as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
Reuniting With the Children of Todos Santos Through Fun Education and Activities
Both our Community Day and School Day were so much fun!! This year, Dr. Angélica Romero was in charge of the Education Program and we are so proud of her work. With the support of our partners Veterinarians International, Dr. Angélica created a series of educational and interactive materials that not only focused on teaching the kids valuable lessons about pet care and rabies prevention, but also on allowing them to be creative and have fun. Two major hits were our very charismatic Scooby Doo and a selection of funny songs (recorded by GAAP’s Marina!) about disease prevention, prepared by Dr. Angélica. She says the songs were so catchy, the children were coming the following week singing what they had heard during School Day.
Dr. Angélica says she was surprised to see that this year many children were starting to learn English. Walking around town it was common to hear little kids speaking basic English to the international doctors. And most of these children already speak Mam (their indigenous language) and Spanish!
Spending time with them is one of our favorite parts of this experience. This year the Allandale team brought toys for the kids and GAAP’s Guillermo taught them how to make balloon animals. It was adorable to see those same children teaching other kids what they had learned. It was also quite a view to see Guillermo being followed by a bunch of kids with their toys and balloons. We dare to say, he was almost as popular as Scooby.
Dogs Trust Supports Training of Guatemalan Para-Veterinarians
For Dr. Elena, GAAP’s Sarah Clark and Melissa Payne from GAAP Canada, this year’s Guatemalan adventure started a little earlier. Before reaching Todos Santos, the team traveled to Huehuetenango where veterinarian Adriana Contreras was waiting for them at her clinic. Adriana is the owner of Clínica Veterinaria Santa Rita and the host of our 4-day para-veterinarian training course.
With the support of Dogs Trust International, the project took form last year with the production of our first para-veterinarian manual. Our goal is to prepare a para-veterinarian to provide basic care for communities where veterinary care is not easily accessible.
Our para-veterinarian in training is named Andrés Carrillo and he lives in Todos Santos, where these services come once a year, in the form of our GAAP/Veterinarians International campaign.
The training included Andrés and Adriana’s assistants, Luis and Edwin. And we are happy to say it was a HUGE success! At first our host was a bit hesitant about the program goals. Adriana is used to being the one doing all the work at her clinic but seeing Luis and Edwin’s progress made all her doubts disappear.
The students were even tested on their skills handling an emergency: Adriana was literally locked away in the bathroom (by Dr Elena, no less) to keep her away from the action as GAAP member Sarah came in to the clinic carrying a severely injured… stuffed animal. And the students did amazing! By the time Adriana was allowed out, they were expertly reviving the toy. Adriana was so proud of her team!
Adriana was so excited about her assistants’ progress that she decided to join us for the veterinary campaign in Todos Santos for two days with her new team of trained assistants! Both her assistants and Andrés, our brilliant trainee, were amazing at the vet campaign!!
First, we would like to congratulate everyone who was a part of this visit; assistants, technicians, anesthesiologists, veterinarians and volunteers. You did an amazing job!
Second of all we want to thank everyone: our partners Veterinarians International for their amazing support, Humane Society International and Dogs Trust International for their incredible generosity, Allandale Veterinary Hospital and GAAP Canada for being awesome as always, Adriana Contreras and Clinica Veterinaria Santa Rita for hosting our para veterinarian training and sharing this great experience with us, Ilustre Municipalidad de Todos Santos Cuchumatán and their major Mr. Andrés Mendoza Calmo for all the support, Puesto de Salud de Todos Santos and Arturo Ahilón for helping us out with vaccines and registry. And, of course, the people of Todos Santos for welcoming us every year with so much love!
And last, but no least, our own GAAP team working on the field: Dr. Elena, Dr. Angélica, Guillermo, and Sarah who did a truly outstanding job capturing the whole experience through photos, videos and interviews. And thanks so much to our supporters and donors everywhere, here’s to an even better campaign next year!