By Emilia Hull
Have you ever thought about volunteering for the GAAP? Many skills are useful!
For example Natalie Flammia is an assistant at the Allandale Veterinary Hospital in Barrie, Ontario, Canada. Her daily tasks there include keeping Dr. Lechten (another great GAAP volunteer) on track and organized so that the doctor can use her talents efficiently.
In Natalie’s words, “My love of animals inspired me to work at a veterinary hospital when the opportunity arose.” Soon after starting work at Allandale, Dr. Lechten approached the staff and asked for volunteers to go to Guatemala and work with the GAAP at their clinic in Todos Santos. After watching videos depicting the work the GAAP was doing in Todos Santos, and how they were helping the animals as well as improving the community as a whole, Natalie decided she wanted to contribute. Not long after, she was off to Todos Santos, Guatemala.
One of her more memorable cases was when two young girls with their pet dog came in asking for the rabies vaccine. After chatting with them, Natalie discovered the twelve and six year old girls had walked for a few hours to arrive at the clinic, and they were alone in life, struggling to feed themselves and their dog. Natalie and the other volunteers quickly assembled some dog treats and snacks to give to the girls, and gave them a lift home.
After volunteering at Todos Santos and seeing the poverty and hardships there firsthand, Natalie commented on how amazing it is that “the people of Todos Santos have so little, yet are always willing to share and be happy about it. It certainly makes me appreciate my home life more, as we don’t’ realize how spoiled we are here in Canada.”
After seeing firsthand the positive impact of the GAAP, who has actively reduced rabies in the area and helped to control the dog population, Natalie is excited to go back to Guatemala again this March.