By Pauline Stewart.
Jacci Hilton is a qualified Vet Nurse and in early November is heading to Tonga with VSA (Volunteer Services Abroad) to volunteer for one year.
“Tonga is one of the only countries in the world without a permanent vet. There is a small government clinic but no qualified staff and a lack of supplies. The focus is on livestock and not domestic animals,” says Debra Alan of the Tongan Animal Welfare Society (TAWS). “We are a partner organisation with VSA which has been actively seeking a volunteer Vet and or Vet Nurse for some time. We now have the good fortune of Jacci coming to Tonga and she will help build our work in relation to community education and awareness around animal welfare.”
TAWS is very excited to have Jacci make this commitment. They fundraise in their country to support the costs of clinics and providing free or very affordable medicines for sick and injured animals.
“I’ve always wanted to volunteer overseas with animals and/or children and in Tonga I will get to do both,” says Jacci. “My work will mainly consist of training others, so they feel confident providing basic health care and advice to pet owners. I will be involved in setting up basic animal husbandry procedures - how to treat sick puppies, teaching wound care as well as aseptic techniques. As well we will gather client information to create a database.”
For Jacci, this will be a huge task in itself as well as undertaking to treat the animals of Tonga. But she is upbeat about the challenge.
“I think education is always key and my focus will be the ‘Five Freedoms’ -
· Freedom from hunger and thirst.
· Freedom from discomfort.
· Freedom from pain, injury or disease.
· Freedom to express normal behaviour.
· Freedom from fear and distress.
It’s a huge job and all the paperwork and hoop jumping to get there will all be worth it.”
Jacci moved here seven years ago from Auckland after she lost her father to Leukaemia. Just before Covid, her brother was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer and after an intense year of chemo, radiation and surgery etc he pulled through. Jacci also had a brush with the same cancer and had to have a small tumour removed. With her mother living in Waihi and her daughter happily travelling in Canada on a work visa; now is her time to fulfil her long-held plans to offer her skills somewhere they are really needed.
“My family all know how much I have wanted to volunteer with animals and/or children and before Covid hit I was going to volunteer for Animal Aid in India.
Can you help Jacci?
Jacci is asking for help to spread the word as she needs to fundraise as much as she can before she goes. She has a Givealittle Page as part of her fundraising work.