Gemma Campling realised she wanted to help animals in less privileged parts of the world even before she got to university to do her veterinary qualification.
She was on holiday in the Himalayas when she saw a dog with a badly injured leg – and found out there was no vet service within reachable distance.
As a vet student, she realised that her peers might be willing to pay for the privilege of working in other countries.
If she set up a volunteer system, veterinary students from the UK could visit countries exotic to them, and make a real difference on the ground.
And thus Worldwide Vets was born, a service which sees young people taking on character-building adventures while helping local animal welfare organisations from Morocco to Zanzibar.
International Fund for Animal Welfare partner CLAW is on their radar, too.
Related: Santa CLAWs comes to Syferbult, South Africa
Gemma recently spent a day with CLAW staff and director Cora Bailey.
“I can see that CLAW does a lot of really fantastic work for people with lower incomes,” said Campling. “We’re hoping that Worldwide Vets and CLAW will come together to support the work that CLAW is doing. This will mean more income for vaccines, drugs and so on.”
Bailey was astonished when she realised that Worldwide Vets’ model means students will PAY to come and volunteer. “We’ve never had that before – a volunteer paying to come,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief.
But it’s true.
These young people are so keen to take up the opportunity that they pay their way and add a fixed fee on top of that, going directly to the animal organisation to support its work.
Campling pointed out that students often need a little hand-holding at first – some have never left home before, almost all will never have seen the kind of poverty that will confront them when they work with CLAW. Bailey smiled. “I understand. I’m a mother and a grandmother.”
Campling herself is familiar with the African environment – she recently relocated to Zimbabwe, and has worked in Malawi and Mozambique several times. And the CLAW clinic is organised, compared to conditions in Mozambique, she laughs.
“CLAW is crazy and manic and busy, which is the way with most animal charity clinics, with animals coming in left right and centre, geese and dogs and cats… I can see there’s so much good work going on in this clinic,” she said.
And when CLAW’s veterinary nurse rushes in with a dog in a medical crisis, Campling turns away from the camera and gets to work…
Learn more about our CLAW program here.
Article source: IFAW