|A Different View of Veterinary Medicine: OSU Students travel to Nicaragua|
Three students from OSU’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences recently traveled on a Christian Veterinary Fellowship mission trip. The experience broadened not only their clinical skills but heightened their awareness of how very different clinical practice can be from one place to another.
The trip was coordinated through Christian Veterinary Mission (CVM), a national organization that has encouraged and sent veterinary professionals throughout the world for more than 30 years. CVM provides an excellent opportunity for those with a call to missions to use their veterinary skills and Christian commitment to serve others and share the Gospel. CVM works with local chapters like the OSU Christian Veterinary Fellowship to schedule (delete) trips.
The three students from OSU each spoke some Spanish and combined with a bilingual veterinarian in their group, they were able to communicate with the people in the villages and communities they served.
“Oscar and Tamy Gaitan, our hosts, were located in Catarina,” explains Katie. “We were there for one week to provide veterinary services to as many rural and urban communities as we could.”
The family was affiliated with the Center of Life Church and Southern Baptist Missionary Association of America. Each day the students provided a devotional and veterinary services to Nicaraguans, as well as spent some time sightseeing in the area, if permitted.
The team of veterinarians traveled in very rural areas to provide veterinary clinical services such as rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats, treating internal and external parasites on all species (dogs, cats, horses, cattle, pigs, chickens, turkeys), perform spay/neuter procedures on dogs, pigs and cattle, and vaccinate cattle.
The animals that the students and veterinarians treated provide a livelihood for their owners. Only in one or two cases, did the people actually use their livestock for food. Most used the animals to carry loads or perform some type of service to support the family’s needs.
“The people there had dogs but they weren’t like our pets. They weren’t companion animals,” says Katie. “Even so, they were very appreciative that we were looking after their animals’ healthcare.”
According to the students, the government provides annual rabies clinics. However, not everyone is able to bring their animal to the designated place at the specified time and no one enforces mandatory vaccinations.
“The dogs were not used to being handled,” explains Brant. “They would bite so the owner would have to grab the dog and hold it while we treated it. It’s very obvious that the dogs have little contact with people.”
According to the aspiring veterinarians, the animals tended to be thin and infested with fleas, ticks and even lice.
This is the first time that the church has hosted a veterinary mission. As the group arrived at a village, someone would go through the jungle and announce that veterinarians were here and if people would bring their animals, they will treat them.
“There was no electricity; it was very rural,” adds Brad. “It certainly makes you appreciate all that we have here.”
Often the villagers would comment that they had tried to obtain vaccines for their animals but could not afford it.
“When we were vaccinating one man’s cattle, he told us that the vaccine was very expensive,” says Brant. “They were very eager to have us help them.”
“By helping them with their animals, God is using us to bring them our veterinary medicine as well as our faith,” continues Katie.
“As veterinary students, we were able to use our clinical skills with supervision from the faculty in our group,” states Brant. “One of our mentors was a board certified surgeon from Louisiana State University. It was a great experience.”
The cost of the students’ trip was covered by donations from family and friends. Depending on schedules and available resources, the OSU Christian Veterinary Fellowship may take more mission trips during the academic year.