So I know I didn’t really tell you all a whole lot about the fact that I was going to Nicaragua with World Vets. Trust me, I didn’t know either. It was more of a, “Hey, you want to come down and check this place out?” invitation from Cathy King and as you all know, I never say no to checking out somewhere cool, so I scrambled and got my act together and flew to Granada to check out the World Vets Latin American Veterinary Training Center.
To sum up: World Vets leased a building, turned it into a spay/neuter clinic, and spent the entire summer flying teams of veterinary, pre-vet, and tech students down in 11 day shifts to learn surgery and medicine, one on one, from a group of experienced volunteer vets. During the non-summer months, the facility will remain open as a training center for local Nicaraguan vets, who do not receive any surgical training in school.
Sound easy? It’s not. The amount of work put in by the volunteers and staff is mind boggling. How they pulled this off is beyond me, but they did, and did it well.
Now, I know Cathy is modest, so I figured it would probably be a good setup. What I didn’t expect was to be blown away, and I mean a brow-furrowing jaw-dropping how-did-she-pull-this-off sort of amazed, at what happened in Granada this summer. It’s a trifecta triple win for the veterinary students who received absolutely priceless surgical training they will not get in school, for the Nicaraguan vets who use the center during the non-summer months, and for the people of Granada, who now have access to a free clinic.
Oh, and the animals. The animals benefitted too. I’ll tell you more in a bit about the scope of the project, the names of the tireless staff who kept the show running, and some more about the thousands of animals whose lives were bettered by this project, but today, let me just show you one:
Don is the incredible surgeon who, along with his wife Lisa, spent the entire summer here overseeing the veterinary training. Val is a veterinary student who summered here as an intern, part student, part camp counselor, all awesome. Lucy is the expat who lives full time in Granada, and is one of the clinic managers tasked with the monumental job of keeping the place running.
And Bits? Well, see for yourself.
She’s only 3 1/2 months old. She spent most of an evening curled in my lap, oblivious to her dysfunctional left front leg.
Without the team, she would have died, alone and in pain.
And now she waits for the right home to come along. She is a little too slow to be a good mouser, a bit too clumsy yet to be trusted to escape a fast predator. She’s fine, but she needs someone who will keep her safe while she learns her changed body. Lucy is fostering her until that time.
By themselves, numbers are just scribbles on a page. 1500 spays. 1200 consultations. Alone, they signify nothing except magnitude. But here, here is just one. And one by one, this volunteer team assembled the bits and pieces of individual lives helped, a tapestry of color and kisses and nuzzles that in the short course of three months, made this training center an indispensable part of the community here in Granada. By the time they left, Val and her fellow intern Shawn couldn’t walk down the street without a friendly “Hola!” and an excited resident giving them an update on a pet World Vets has helped.
One bit and piece.