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Chasing the Baboons Away: Day 1 in Zomba

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Chasing the Baboons Away: Day 1 in Zomba

After 2 long, eventful days of travel (including a fried outlet converter and a broken suitcase), we’ve finally arrived in Zomba, a city in southern Malawi. This year, we’re staying at a lodge near the Zomba Nature Reserve—it’s a beautiful place, and I’m looking forward to calling it home for the next few weeks.

Our rooms are comfortable, and the warm, cozy beds are a welcome sight after 2 days of travel. Although I somehow failed to pack pajamas, I’m not terribly disappointed, as the chilly nights make wearing layers to bed a necessity. 

This year, I’m working with a smaller—but no less amazing—group of volunteers. There are only 6 of us: Tonya, a small animal veterinarian; Alan and Anna, a UK-based husband and wife veterinary team; Leslie, an LVMT and VTS (ECC) from University of Tennessee; Shelley, my travel companion and colleague from Brief Media; and myself. Looking forward to getting to know this team and spending some quality time together on this adventure.

From left to right: Anna, Alan, Jessie, Leslie, Tonya, and Shelley

Figure 1 From left to right: Anna, Alan, Jessie, Leslie, Tonya, and Shelley

Our first full day in Zomba, we had our orientation for the next 2 weeks of work. We start static clinics on Saturday, June 9—I’m looking forward to getting started! I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my Malawi friends Yamikani and Joseph, who have worked Mission Rabes drives in the past, will be joining us on this drive as well.

This morning, we took a trip to the Zomba Plateau for a gorgeous 6-mile uphill hike. Our guide, Isaac, took us to 2 stunning waterfalls; the water is so clear! The weather was perfect for this kind of hiking—just chilly enough to keep us cool. Along the way, Isaac showed us the Kachere tree, a gargantuan tree that looks like it’s made up of dozens of smaller branches all bundled together. The immense spreading limbs shade a huge area of the forest floor. On the drive in—and throughout the hike—we saw dozens of baboons (which explains our lodge’s Wifi password, “chase the baboons away”).

Our work begins tomorrow! Stay tuned for updates—although I will warn you that power outages have been frequent, so our Wifi connection is spotty at best. Watch for updates on social media, and be sure to check for updates at cliniciansbrief.com/mission-rabies

Thanks for reading!—Jessie Foley

JESSIE FOLEY has a degree in veterinary technology from Cedar Valley College, as well as a degree in advertising and public relations from University of Arkansas. She was previously on the veterinary nurse team at University of Tennessee Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Foley plays a key role in Brief Media's partnership with Mission Rabies. In 2018, she joined the Mission Rabies vaccine drive in Malawi for her third year.

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