Sunset in Mindelo

Hello! My name is Daniela and I would like to tell you briefly my experience as a volunteer at Vet for Simabo ngo.

First of all I would like to thank Silvia, Paolo and the Chief Vet Dr. Raineri for giving me the chance to realize this unforgettable adventure … which started on March 26 when I embarked from Rome to fly to Cape Verde.

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I arrived at the airport in Mindelo where Ravi ‘ (the driver for Simabo) was waiting for me to then take me to Paolo & Silvia’s house where I was hosted with extreme care throughout my stay in Mindelo.

During the car journey, the first image that I was intoxicated with was that of Mindelo’s Bay at dusk (what a breathtaking play of colour!!)

The next day Paolo took me to the dog shelter where I met the famous Nanda (one of the local nurses working at the shelter) and all the other tireless people of the“Simabo’s Gang” ….. and then we just started  working together!

Despite all the instructions, circulars and protocols I was given before my departure (which I studied carefully in preparation of my volunteer placement), my only real concern was the use of intravenous anesthesia of which I had no experience!

As per European standards I am in fact familiar with the use of gas anesthesia and many other equipment and diagnostic tools without it is very difficult to carry out our profession.

sunset mindelo

Nevertheless, the daily routine was great and we were sterilising 8-10 animal a day which was a mammoth effort by all involved. Premedication, anesthesia and awakening of the operated animals were satisfactory.

The local nurses were fantastic and got me up to speed with the ins and outs immediately. I gained so many useful skills and made friends with some amazing people and animals!!

From a professional point of view it is an amazing experience because you are presented with clinical conditions that are difficult to see in Europe, such as Sticker tumor, chronic erlichiosis and severe parasitic dermatoses. On the other side of the coin, however, I’ve realized how much more receptive to treatment are the dogs and cats who live in these parts of the world.

Moreover, there are often real emergencies such asanimals with severe traumatic injuries (as a result off road traffic accidents or falls from heights) and even poisoning, skin cancerand so on… well you can see “a bit of everything”  although the primary task of the volunteering Vet is Neutering.

You works for sure under stress for the first week or so and this because you need time to get used a new language, new culture, different climate.

Personally the language barrier was a little frustrating (I do recommend anyone planning to volunteer as a Vet there to take some basic Portuguese classes!!)

cat with eye trauma

All this makes the work more “difficult” and you get tired in the evening.

Of course Silvia and Paolo’s hospitality and kindness is not to be underestimated: breakfast, lunch and dinner are always ready for you and I  can assure you that thanks to Lisette and Nidia you will taste the good and healthy local cuisine.

Finally…..it’s hard to sum up this place in simple words. I went with no expectations and left with memories of people, animals and a country that will always be in my heart.

For anyone wishing to do some  veterinary volunteer work in Cape Verde, please do not hesitate to contact me for more information at [email protected]

Thank you
Daniela Iacopini

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