The Final Night

We made it! Not only did we vaccinate 15,000 dogs in 14 days, but we overcame bugs (big, small, and ones I didn’t know even existed), we overcame sleeping in tents near wart hogs, baboons, and other animals, we hiked and climbed the tough *but stunning* terrain of Malawi every single day, and most importantly …made an actual difference in the community. I’m so excited for the next team coming in to finish out the Mission Rabies overall goal of 30,000 dogs in 30 days, but I’m slightly jealous they’re just starting their adventure.

I don’t even know where to start on the past couple days. As we rounded out our final door to door vaccination days, it really started to hit me just how many dogs we had vaccinated, and how much we had covered. The final day of work was a whirlwind of emotions, made evident in our final hours. Usually our lodging provides packed lunches for us to have during the day, but for our last day we wanted to go out with our team. It was reminiscent of a family get together over Thanksgiving or some other holiday with loved ones. Some of local boys even went around and shared some happy memories and “how they would remember each of us by”. This experience has forced me to try new things and do so with confidence, and sharing that with people is a true bonding experience. As if lunch wasn’t enough of a precious memory, we finished up early the last day and the bus ride back we all went around and said how much we would miss each other and how thankful we were. And not to mention just how proud we were to be a part of this team.

It’s funny thinking back, how many different places and cultures were represented in this experience. I’ve met people from Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, UK, Italy, Malawi (duh), Canada, Tanzania (shout out to you Jens), India…and I’m sure I’m even forgetting some. What an experience. If you couldn’t tell, it was one to remember.

Fast forward a bit, and we got to experience another wonderful African staple: a safari. If you couldn’t already tell…bugs and creepy crawlies aren’t my strong suit. So my final test in Malawi was sleeping in a tent, in a wildlife reserve near bugs, monkeys, wart hogs, and other animals. Don’t worry I passed the test with flying colors (by my standards). I shared a tent with Jessie and unfortunately for all the other tents we spent half the time we should’ve been sleeping just giggling about our situation.

Our campsite…


Pumba from Lion King:)


Right before he stole cake from the table haha…
The sunset we enjoyed during happy hour☀️


Scary hippo we saw on the night safari


THE CUTEST ELEPHANT FAMILY EVER


And an African fish eagle


So you could say I had a great time at the safari!!

More than anything I had the most amazing time the past three weeks. Please excuse the next few cheesy sentences, but I can’t help it because the end of this trip is bringing out all the feels.😊 I’m so thankful for the opportunity to come to Malawi and be a part of this INCREDIBLE experience and the Mission Rabies team. I’m thankful for all the people I’ve met, all the culture I’ve experienced. I’m going to miss Malawi, Mission Rabies, and all my new friends I hold so dear. Until next time!

Tithetse Chiwewe!!!!!🐶🐾🌍


🙂


See you soon Tulsa…the next few days will be traveling!

Another Day, Another Update

The past couple days have been SO fun! We spent about two days near Cape Maclear on Lake Malawi, and had such a blast. Minusthe gnarly (look rowdy, I spelled it right) sunburn, we had such a fun time kayaking, paddle boarding, and going on a sunset cruise. Lots of bugs and animals since we were near a nature reserve, but it was absolutely stunning. 

Update on bugs: I still hate them. BUT I’ve grown to really like the geckos, as they seem to eat the bugs. 
Here’s some pics from the trip:) ☀️🌊


Today was back to work at the stationary clinics. Wasn’t the same without our team leader Jens, who has gone back home to Tanzania, but we still had a great day! Managed to vaccinate another 700-800 dogs with the Cobras team. We took a couple breaks to play soccer with the kids and volunteers, and just run around. Yes, I have a red mark on my head…me and the kids decided we needed one to match the dogs😂


Let’s not forget the end of the day, vaccinating Buttons: the hotel owner’s dog!

Have a great Saturday🙃

An Update!

So the last couple days have been nothing short of amazing. We started the vaccinations at a stationary clinic, and today and yesterday were spent going door to door through neighborhoods. 

It’s one of the most challenging, exciting, and inspirational things I’ve ever been a part of. To give a little insight: my overall team spent the first two days at stationary clinics, and then we split our group into three teams. Each team has a data collector/navigator, vaccinator, and dog handler. I was lucky to be paired with two Malawian Mission Rabies volunteers who know the local language, and have knowledge of the terrain. While myself and the team’s “dog handler” were not vaccinating, all 3 of us had our fair share of handling the animals, filling out data on the Mission Rabies app, and helping each other throughout the day. We walked through the neighborhoods, asked the locals if they had dogs that needed to be vaccinated, and went up and down Malawian hills covered with homes. Talk about a workout. 

The boys on my team were absolutely wonderful! We spent the time walking from house to house talking about all sorts of things from Snoop Dogg to American customs and Malawian lifestyles. 


Mission Rabies has gone above and beyond ensuring that this initiative is successful. As the data collector, I’ve seen firsthand how thorough this organization is. Our group is assigned an area each day and the three sub teams (within our group) split the grid into threes. Yesterday we only walked about 10 kilometers but covered LOADS of houses, and vaccinated tons of dogs. Today was great, because we walked about 12 or so kilometers and covered so so so much of the grid and went to a large amount of houses. We vaccinated a great number of dogs but the beauty of today was we had a high percentage of dogs that had already been vaccinated, which means we are starting to cover areas entirely and truly reduce the risk of rabies in those areas. Still tons of places we need to hit, but we are making progress! We use special markers to mark the dogs we vaccinate and it  lasts a couple days to a week so when we are walking through neighborhoods we can know what dogs we’ve vaccinated. This coupled with all the data we enter for each dog we encounter is so interesting. It’s an efficient and well thought out process that we have running and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow and next week bring!!


As for tonight, the group at dinner got its kicks watching a large (clearly well-fed) gecko eat a moth right on the wall in front of us. As Chris put it, it’s like our real life version of animal planet😂😂

That’s all from me for now! I’m off to bed for another day of door to door vaccinating!:)

-Chelsea

First Day of Vaccinations

Last night was our first night in the accommodation, and it is absolutely gorgeous. It’s rustic, authentic, and completely tucked away. A great Malawi spot. I mean come on….😍😍


After multiple bug run-ins *who’s surprised*, I went to bed for the first time in 48 hours and it felt awesome.  Fast forward a couple hours and we were getting up at 430 in the morning to get ready to go vaccinate.

We drove through town where we went to the Blantyre SPCA, and met up with the local Malawian volunteers. After figuring out our teams, we parted ways and went to our assigned school to set up our stationary clinic!! Mission Rabies has been telling the communities leading up to this campaign to bring their dogs, but it was still unbelievable to see just how many people brought their dogs. Truly incredible.


We did most of the work in a couple of the school houses, but there are 7 other teams in addition to ours, dispersed throughout other areas. Between our team and 1 other team, we vaccinated over 600 dogs in one day. I thought this was good until I found out Jessie’s team vaccinated over 700 today. And it was there team only! Kids from the community stuck around the entire day to watch us work and loved chatting with us. We even learned a couple Chichewa words ( I probably spelled that wron, let’s be honest) from Malawian volunteers. Don’t worry I didn’t actually insert the vaccination, but I helped in lots of other ways with various different jobs throughout he day. 
One of the coolest parts of the day was getting to observe some of the vets perform surgery. I wasn’t the only one who wanted to observe…they have some helpers in the windows 🙂


What a great experience so far, with such wonderful people. Can’t wait for tomorrow and some new experiences!

❤️ Chelsea

And So It Begins…

Picture this: we are 45 minutes into our adventure (yep…still in Tulsa) and an announcement comes over the intercom for someone to come pick up their blanket. Me and Jessie both look down and to no one’s surprise, we realize it’s my blanket that’s missing. Yes, I carry a blanket…and yes, like the five year old I am, I lose it. But I sit here many hours later in Germany, and so far it’s been a really great trip!

We started our trip on a small plane to Houston, and it was a short flight so my luck wasn’t all that bad. Our flight to Germany was GREAT!!! I don’t know what it is, something about planes, or maybe airports, but I LOVE traveling. 

The flight to Frankfurt was a huge 777, *no complaints here.*And no one was by me so I had three seats to myself. But honestly, the best part of the flight was some lady asking to be moved up in the plane, and being refused by Steve the flight attendant. I don’t know about you guys but it made me think of Bridesmaids, so naturally I started laughing. Because this.


One 10 hour flight later, plus a 9 hour layover in Germany meant lots and lots of travel time. We loved our mini trip to Frankfurt and exploring the city. Lemme tell ya…traveling public transit that functions in another language is quite the treat.😂 We spent at least 10 minutes thinking that “nachste halt” was a city before I realized it actually meant “next stop”. It’s sad but I knew I was in Europe when I saw at least 6 soccer *futbol* fields flying in! Love it. Here’s a pic of some after we’d already passed a bunch.


Now for the fun part: another 10 hour flight, this time to Johannesburg! After that, a flight to Malawi, where we have to get our travel visas in person. Not stressed about it at all.


I’ll be sure to post pics later, once we get to Malawi! Currently sipping on a Coca Cola light, so you could say things are going pretty great✌🏼

❤️Chelsea

It’s About That Time

Well…it’s officially here. TWO days until I leave for Africa!
officegif_itshappeningofficegif_staycalm

If you don’t know already, or would like to know a little more…I’ll be going to Africa to help vaccinate dogs, and aid in the fight against Rabies. I’ll be spending my time running around chasing dogs and helping collect data for this cause  (this is an oddly fitting role as I seem to always be wandering off to pet random pups). Why not put this “hobby” to use and travel to another continent, where I can chase after dogs for a good cause and hopefully help eradicate Rabies in Africa. Of course I jumped on this opportunity of a lifetime.

To celebrate getting to be part of such an amazing cause, I’ve decided to start a blog of my experience. If you know me at all you know I’m super quiet and have minimal opinions on everything…so typing my thoughts will be tough. Alright, **insert smirking face** I’m definitely kidding…I think I can see my coworkers rolling their eyes as I typed that last sentence. Okay…so I like to talk a lot, and I’m sure I’ll come out of this experience with too many stories to count. But I wanted to share as many moments as possible, in their authentic glory, throughout my time in Africa. And be prepared: it’s a lot of time, so look out for plenty of updates. Let’s just hope that none of those updates include me jumping back on a plane to Tulsa because I saw a giant mutant ninja spider, and chickened out. Unfortunately I don’t think TSA will let me on the plane with one of these…

Blowtorch to kill spiders

but they should, so I can handle any scary bugs that come my way once in Africa. #FreeTheFireTorch …just kidding. But I am slightly (and by slightly I mean 100%) scared of the creepy crawliezzz I’ll encounter on this trip. I know I’m supposed to love all God’s creatures, but spiders and snakes unfortunately did not make the cut.

On a more serious note, I’ve spent the last 3 months or so getting all my documents ready and just making sure that I’ve packed all I need,*fingers crossed I have everything.* Somehow I need to fit all my stuff for ~3 weeks into one bleepin’ carry on bag. Considering I’ve packed more stuff into multiple bags for overnight stays and weekend trips…getting everything into one 15 lb bag for 3 weeks is quite the feat.

I’ll try to write as many posts as I can while I’m there, as long as I have access to Internet. I might be the only one reading them, but if you do happen to follow me on my trip, feel free to leave any comments! 🙂 And since I don’t have the best luck in the world when it comes to traveling, I’ll be taking all superstitious measures necessary and thinking happy thoughts along the way. Please send any positive vibes my direction. I’ll just leave this here…

“I’m not superstitious…I’m a little-stitious” – Michael Scott

Happy Monday!

Chelsea