From CLE to SRI: Our Trip to Sri Lanka with WECare Worldwide - Part 2

CNVR clinic Sri Lanka

Part 2: Our Time with WECare Worldwide
(Click Here for Part 1)

By: Danniele Zucker
Edited By: Kendra Williams

The first day of volunteering, as we sat in a tuk tuk on the way to the clinic in Gandara, we were nervous and unsure of what to expect. Walking through the gates that first day, we were amazed to see a beautiful clinic, two large shipping crates, and about a dozen excited dogs. Kendra and I both knew we only had two weeks to take it all in and make a difference, so we hit the ground running.

While Kendra has 13 years of experience as a vet tech, my background is in the business world, but we realized quickly that what they needed was an extra vet nurse. So, Kendra spent a lot of the first day training me to assist the veterinarians. Luckily, I had a great teacher and was able to catch on quickly. Being able to help care for the animals medically was in and of itself a life-changing experience.

The second and third day of volunteering we were separated because Janey, the founder of WECare Worldwide, and Jo needed Kendra to go with them to Arugam Bay for a pop-up spay/neuter day. While in Arugam Bay, the team treated around a dozen animals. Kendra was responsible for monitoring and giving medication, vaccines, and anesthetic drugs to all of them. Since there was no formal clinic in the area, they worked right on the beach.

Meanwhile, I stayed back at the clinic to start organizing the crate of veterinary supplies and assist the veterinarians. When the three of them returned to Gandara we started the process of packing up supplies for the upcoming 3-day CNVR (catch, neuter, vaccinate, release) clinic.

On the first day of the CNVR clinic, we woke up to pouring rain. This was unusual for the time of year and made it very difficult for the dog catchers to find dogs. Each day of the clinic it rained for at least a little bit. Luckily, it is hot in Sri Lanka. Once the sun came out everything dried up quickly and the dog catchers would appear with crates full of dogs. Kendra and I were responsible for monitoring all of the dogs (pictured). This included topping off the anesthetic drugs as needed, giving their rabies vaccines, ensuring they received any meds they may need, and checking them for any skin issues, TVT (Transmissible Venereal Tumors), and fleas/ticks/lice. Finally, we had to ensure that while in recovery they were being monitored and having their IV catheters removed before they fully woke up.

Sri Lanka Vet Supplies

Overall, it was an emotional, physically-draining, and completely inspiring three days. We were able to treat around 150 animals, which in turn helps improve the quality of life for everyone living in the area. Knowing that we could help people through helping animals is one of the main reasons we were drawn to WECare Worldwide in the first place. The CNVR clinic was over as quickly as it started, and we went back to the clinic for our last week in Sri Lanka.

As I briefly mentioned above, one of the big projects we were presented with was organizing the shipping crate filled with veterinary supplies (pictured). This was something that took multiple days and a lot of sweat. The first couple days in the crate caused a heat rash on my face. Even though it was really challenging, both of us knew how important it was. Organizing this is the only way they could know supplies are there to work with. Getting this done was as extremely proud moment for us. By the time we were finished, we were so hot and exhausted that we walked straight into the ocean when we got back to our hotel – fully clothed!

Over the next few days, we spent our time in the hospital. At any given time, they have 10-15 inpatients and we needed to make sure they all got meds and were taken out on a constant rotation throughout the day. One day, we had two major surgeries on the books and inconsistent power to the hospital. This is a regular occurrence for them, and the backup generator works inconsistently tpp. This made surgery difficult, but not impossible. One was a follow-up surgery for a mammary tumor removal and the other was a full front leg amputation. Thankfully, both dogs made it through surgery and recovered beautifully. This day was a perfect example of the challenges of working in veterinary medicine in Sri Lanka. They truly are making miracles happen with almost everything working against them. I once told Janey that I feel like I could hand her a paper clip, a rubber band, and a pocket knife and she would figure out how to spay/neuter a dog. They are truly the MacGyvers of veterinary medicine.

DannieleWhile at the clinic, I grew very close with many of the dogs, but none moreso than Lucy (pictured). She came to the clinic after beign attacked by a boar. She suffered a torn Achilles tendons from the attack, but is a happy and health pup otherwise.

When people have asked us about our highlights from the trip, our final day at the clinic is at the top of the list (and believe me, it is not because we were excited to leave). On our last day of volunteering, we were given an opportunity to bring in three of the street dogs by our hotel (Mamma Dog, Kendra, and Danniele - yes, we named the puppies after ourselves) to be spayed.

Not only can these three dogs now live peaceful lives, but the people that we grew very close to will have far fewer dogs to worry about. This made our time in Sri Lanka even more personal, because we were able to directly impact our community there. It also felt amazing that something that was so important to us was prioritized by the team at the clinic.

From the first moment we knew we were going to Sri Lanka, to the second we got back to Cleveland, this has been a life changing experience for both of us - and it's still only the beginning of our real journey with WECare Worldwide. We met so many amazing people along the way, explored a completely new part of the world, grew attached to many of the dogs, and pushed ourselves to do things we couldn't have imagined we were capable of seven months ago. Now we have a family at WECare Worldwide and in Sri Lanka, one that we hope to always be a part of!

Continue to follow our journey with WECare Worldwide on Facebook at CLE 2 SRI.

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