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Door-to-Door in Zingwangwa

Clinician's Brief

May 2016

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Door-to-Door in Zingwangwa

Day 10

Today, Andrew joined Yamikani and me on our door-to-door mission. We spent the day in Zingwangwa. Yamikani has family there, so he knew the area well and was a huge help for navigation. On our door-to-door missions, I am the navigator. (For those of you who know me, stop laughing!) We use our Mission Rabies phones to track our path and mark where we have been and where we need to go.

Clinician's Brief

On these missions, the Elephant group divides into 3 smaller groups to cover a designated area. We break for lunch at noon and compare our paths to measure progress. After our sack lunch, a brief rest for our feet, and a reapplication of sunscreen and bug repellant, we compare grids and see what’s left to finish in the afternoon. Our door-to-door assignment typically ends at 4 PM. We then shuttle back to our base, Blantyre SPCA, to unpack and restock our supplies for the following day. While on assignment, we carry a small cooler with vaccines and a duffle bag with supplies (eg, needles, syringes, vaccine cards).

We started the day in ponchos and jackets to fend off the rain, but by the end of the day, we had sunshine and warmth. We will continue our trek through Zingwangwa tomorrow. For now, check out this video—we were able to film a local band, playing a cover of "Who Let the Dogs Out". 

Our next-door neighbor, Helen, insisted on taking our picture!

Clinician's Brief

Day 11

Have I mentioned that we have mosquito nets over our beds?  Bugs are quite prevalent in general and at the resort (eg, spiders, cockroaches, mosquitoes, bees).  Every night before we go to bed, Chelsea and I go through our de-bugging ritual (Chelsea’s ritual is a bit more thorough than mine).  Once all the bugs have been evicted, we let down our nets, check our sheets, and tuck the net in.

Speaking of bugs, we’ve discovered these immense spiders, called Golden Orb spiders, which tend to spin their webs up in trees. It is always important to watch where you walk.

A Golden Orb spider, with Jessie for scale.

Clinician's Brief

As I mentioned in my last blog, I have been tying a clothesline around my waist to keep my pants up. Today, as we were walking through Zingwangwa, we came upon a store with belts for sale. I bought one for 150 Malawian kwacha (approximately $2) and now my pants stay up!  

My group came across a dog we suspected had been infected with rabies. After speaking with the owner and observing the dog, we contacted our local Mission Rabies headquarters. The team picked up the dog and determined it needed to be put down. Following proper protocol, they did just that. They will run a rabies test and provide results back to the owner. If the case proves positive, the team will perform damage control in the area and educate the community. A potentially rabid dog poses a major problem, is it could have bitten another dog, and may cause a chain reaction, putting locals (especially children) in danger. This was humbling to see, but a major reality check on the importance of this mission.

Tomorrow, May 11, is our final work day. I cannot believe this adventure is coming to an end already. We are scheduled to go on safari Thursday and Friday to wrap up our trip. Happy trails!—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. For the past 2 years, she has been production editor for Brief Media. She was previously on the veterinary nurse team at University of Tennessee Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Foley led Brief Media's efforts to build a team of volunteers for the Mission Rabies Mega Vaccine Drive in Malawi, Africa, and has joined the team in Africa.

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