The last few days have been a whirlwind! I'll try to make this as short as possible.
An amazing opportunity to volunteer my time has fallen into my lap last minute. I've been asked by Animal Balance, a non-profit, to volunteer my sevices as an RVT in an upcoming missions campaign on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. Animal Balance mission is to offer high volume, human sterilization campaigns and rabies vaccinations to underpriviliged and often remote areas of the world to combat the stray population. In these areas, the cat and dog stray burden often compromises human health and the local ecosystem. They are a small, grassroots org and operate by setting up MASH-style clinics, often working in rough coniditions (no running water, unreliable or no electricity). They also work to educate the local residents on humanity towards the animals, as they often know no different.
I will be working with a group of 10-15 volunteer veterinarians, technicians, and translators in the small villages of Cabrera and La Entrada, DR. If you've ever vacationed in the DR, I'm sure you've seen the "beach dogs" and stray dogs and cats in the streets. You can only imagine how many more there are in the remote areas. We will be using every second of daylight available as we can't rely on the sporadic electrical supply. Our goal is to sterililize and/or treat and vaccinate every animal that is brought to us or that we can catch and release. Animal Balance operates under 100% humane practices, even supplying a wonderful pain management protocol to all patients. In addition, we hope to educate the local residents, especially the children, as it's commonplace for the children there to throw rocks at and hit the stray animals with sticks. Unfortunately they know no different, so this is an important goal of ours. Last year, the DR had a rabies outbreak, and the government's response to minimize transmission of the disease was to distribute quantities of poisoned food to kill any stray animal that would eat it. Obviously, this is a long, painful death for them. Animal Balance hopes to decrease the stray population over time as a long-term solution to such problems.
Animal Balance operates on donations and by the service of volunteers, so I am responsible for raising the money to fund my trip. Graciously, since they needed an experienced tech on such short notice, Emma Clifford, the founder and director of Animal Balance (and overall amazing human being), is offering 1/2 the money to cover my airfare. I need to raise money to help cover the remaining portion and to cover my accomodation/travel expenses (vaccines I still need to get, food, etc). We are staying in very basic accomodations (there is no other choice, LOL!).
If you would be able to give even a small donation ($5 adds up very quickly...for example, my hotel is only $22/night), I would so greatly appreciate it. I wouldn't be asking here but I have less than 2 weeks (I'm going from April 9-17) to raise the money, and that doesn't leave me with the option for traditional fundraising. What I don't raise to cover the trip I will happily fund myself, but I'm hoping to take down as many supplies (for the clinics and the children) as I can afford as well. Animal Balance is a super organization. Emma operates efficiently, keeping the org's overhead costs extremely low, leaving the majority of donations to supporting their missions. Volunteers work from sun up to sun down, spending only one day setting up/tearing down clinics, the rest dedicated to patient care. This is by no means a "voluntourism" trip. It took me a long time to find such a group that I felt comfortable donating my time to.
If you can donate, my paypal address is firstname.lastname@example.org Be sure to mark it as "donation" or "gift" when prompted. If you'd rather mail a donation, PM me and I'll be happy to share an address where it can be mailed. I urge you to visit www.animalbalance.net for more information on AB. There you will find detailed reports on each trip and exactly what the groups accomplish on these trips. There is also a short video hosted by Emma detailing their efforts on the Galapagos Islands here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZpVR...embedded#at=24
Thank you so much for reading! Also, I need some good packing tips! I want to be able to pack as many supplies for the clinic and the children as I can, so I won't have much room to pack clothing and supplies for myself. Any tips on packing efficiently, or good ideas for high protein, heat resistance snacks to keep me going are appreciated!!
This has been approved by MissyJ (thank you Missy!)
For packing, use Space Bags. There are ones specifically for packing suitcases and you can roll almost all the air out of a stack of clothing and it will fill half the space. Some tech gear (like poly workout stuff) is good because it's very light, thin, cool, and can be washed out each night and air dry by morning. Then you can take less clothing.
How about some prepackaged dried fruits and/or nut mixes?
I would ask what you can legally bring regarding food. For me Cliff Bars worked great.
I ditto the thin stuff.. Extra SHOES! and socks. Bring the comfiest shoes. If you are not going to wear it 3 times do not pack it. Wipes are handy as are extra plastic bags, and pantiliners for long flight etc.
Consider packing how you would pack if camping, not everything you use daily, leave room to bring home items. One way to do this is pack without the space saver bags on on the way there, and use them on the way pack.
Other recommendations I have read say bring disposable clothing.. so you don't have to pack it back... just an idea.
A windbreaker that is waterproof is probably all you would need for a jacket type, and can get really compactable ones. Keep Passport, or id on you... wear a pouch inside your clothing.
Congrats have a wonderful time, it will be life changing I am sure.
You might want to consider bringing items to give the children there, since you are going anyway?
DH-Aug 30th 1997 Josiah - 6/3/02 Isaac 7/31/03
Is mailing a box of supplies to your hotel an option? If so, then you only need to take what you need for the first few days if you'll have a package waiting. Ditto checking what food you can legally take along. You might be able to mail things you couldn't bring in yourself. I love Luna Bars, they taste much better than Clif Bars, and you can usually buy raw nuts & peanut butter almost anywhere, maybe check on what you can get locally.
Space Bags are great, but you can also do the same thing with regular zipper baggies. Get the super-size (3 gallon?) bags with the sliding zipper, pack it full, zip it most of the way, then slowly roll it up (put your body weight on it!) and finish zipping. My SIL traveled to Africa on a two-week medical mission, and she took only two sets of clothing. She wore them both for the trip, saving room in her bags for extra supplies.
Good luck to you, I hope you have a great trip!
David Letterman is retiring. Such great memories of watching him over the past thirty-two years!
Sounds like a great cause, I hope that you have a great trip.
-Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)
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I have no experience packing for something like that, so no help there. I just wanted to offer some suggestions of things to take the kids. Our church collects McD's toys for foreign mission trips. You could set up a bin at work for people to drop off the toys and you may even have some around your house as well. A good friend went on a trip to China and took the kids Silly Bands and she said they were a big hit. I'm sure you could even find some animal ones.
Have fun and take lots of pictures!
The silly bands are a great idea! I just want to take something to kind of open the door to talking with them. I would LOVE to take down things they *need*, but I just don't have the space. I'm not sure that mailing things at this point is possible for many reasons...I'd have to look into it.
I've already ordered some Clif bars...love them! Will get packets of Gatorade or other electolyte-replacement drinks as well. Plan on packing some almonds too.
AWESOME packing tips, thank you guys!
Do you have a Tourist Card? I think you need one to go to the DR.