1st August thru 30th August 2011
Disclaimer: Management wishes to apologize for the lack of posts in the last month. Due to lack of reliable internet in the Kingdom of Tonga and other extraneous circumstances I have not been able to publish any posts.
My time in Tonga was both the best and worst times I have had. Due to misunderstanding and assumptions certain personality conflicts came into play with my volunteer team. But I made the best of it and the following entries will focus on the good times.
Why go to Tonga
I had barely even heard of the Kingdom of Tonga and whenever someone asked me where it was my reply was “Somewhere north between Australia and New Zealand in the middle of the South Pacific”. Then I came across a fantastic volunteer group focusing on spaying and neutering the local dogs and cats. I was very excited and asked to join the August team. I was accepted and really looking forward to it. This group, still in its infant days, has great promise and, in my opinion, with a little more organisation, will prove to be a driving force in changing the views of islanders to their pets.
Renting a clinic that used to service human patients, we regularly saw between 5 and 10 patients a day. I spent most of my time cleaning and doing auctoclaving to sterilise the instruments. I went not knowing much about making kits and left an expert at packing, folding and sterilising. We even treated pets of the royalty including an awesome dog named Bill who had to have his leg amputated after being hit by a car.
On our second to last day of the clinic the word had suddenly got out and we saw over 30 animals. We all worked non stop. At one point I was monitoring 2 animals at the same time inbetween trying to sterilise and have new packs ready for the next in line.
Another important aspect of our clinic duties was to visit local villages and bring the doctors to them. I got to go on 2 of these trips and they were some of my best times in Tonga. The people were amazing, the kids staring at house through the windows were ridiculously cute. There is nothing quite like realising we had to do surgeries on random sized tables, the docs had to scrub up in a bucket and on the rare occasion we ran out of kits we would reuse the same kit on sibling animals.
Another important aspect was school visits. The best way to educate is to start with the children. I was not given an opportunity to join one of the visits but heard they were very successful.
Following entries will focus on non-clinic activities and some of the fun times I had well in Tonga