Are you a vet student in the UK?

Together with Veterinary Education Malawi we are running a fantastic volunteer opportunity to work with donkeys and the stray dog population of Lilongwe, Malawi. Learn about the beautiful country of Malawi whilst helping to improve animal welfare through donkey castration and small animal neutering campaigns.

Vet edu

Summary

  • 4th and 5th year veterinary students
  • 2 week volunteer experience
  • Surgical training in equine castration and small animal neutering
  • Large and small animal field anaesthesia
  • Counts towards clinical EMS
  • Dates to be confirmed dependent on COVID 19
  • Volunteer with the LSPCA in Lilongwe, Malawi
  • In association with the University and the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR)
  • Exclusive opportunity for UoE students
  • Space for 4 volunteers at once
  • Opportunity to meet, work and train with local para-vets

What to expect

You will be picked up from the airport and after a short drive arrive at the LSPCA where you will settle into your accommodation. The team will meet each morning at the LSPCA and we will drive to various sites around Lilongwe to perform canine neutering for the local community or to rural areas around Lilongwe and Dedza to run donkey castration clinics.  You will become proficient in both male and female canine neutering, large and small animal field anaesthesia and equine castration. Throughout your experience. This is a great opportunity to form friendships, share cultures and clinical experience. On certain days, also expect to meet and participate in donkey castration clinics with para-vets, this is a unique opportunity to learn about life and veterinary practice in rural Malawi.

Your time in Malawi will be a life changing experience. Some things that you should be aware of before committing to this project are the days are long, hot and challenging and the work can be difficult. The accommodation provided will shared rooms and shared bathroom. The human and animal suffering which you may encounter can be emotionally difficult to experience. Having said that, the work is extremely rewarding, you will make lifelong friends and have unique memories stories to tell from your time working in this beautiful country.

Malawi is a beautiful country and if you have time we cannot recommend enough visiting some of the extraordinary sites. Including national parks, like Liwonde or Kasungu. Hike in some stunning destinations like Mount Mulanje or amid the tea plantations of Thyolo. Or relax at the beautiful serene Lake of Stars.

How to apply

Simple. Send an email to enquire further to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Include your name and a small paragraph about yourself and why you would like to come with us. We would more happily answer and questions/queries you have via telephone or email. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

VOLUNTEER TESTIMONIALS

Georgie Everest: Final Year Edinburgh Student

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Why did you want to volunteer abroad?

Since I started studying to be a vet, I have been determined to take part in a spay and neuter programme. I had heard from graduated vets that the experience you gain from such experiences is unrivalled and I can now reaffirm this! Africa has been a second home for me for many years, but I have never visited Malawi, so when this experience came up, I couldn’t not apply! Volunteering abroad really puts things in perspective, and I would highly recommend it to everyone!

Why did you decide to volunteer with Veterinary Education Malawi, working with the LSPCA?

Veterinary Education Malawi was portrayed as a fantastic opportunity to improve my surgical skills in a novel environment. This, as well as exploring a new country, made this volunteer programme extremely attractive to me. Through correspondence with Angus & Rebecca it was obvious how important Malawi and the LSPCA was to them, and this encouraged me to part take in this programme further.

What was your day-to-day routine like?

Generally, Rebecca & Angus would pick us up between 7:30-8 in the morning and we would drive to our surgery destination of the day. The journey time varied quite a lot but the sites were never too far away. Then depending on if we were castrating donkeys or neutering dogs, we would set up our required equipment for the day. As we got more confident with the surgeries, we were able to crack on independently which was fantastic practice, and it was reassuring knowing Rebecca & Angus were right there if we had any questions. The shelter provided us with delicious lunches (a highlight!) and these were enjoyed in the field.

In terms of Veterinary work, we were involved in anaesthesia and surgery, as well as occasional donkey dentistry and rabies vaccinations in dogs! It was fascinating to see how anaesthesia in the field is carried out and learning to monitor our patients without access to the fancy equipment we have in the UK!

In the evenings back at the LSPCA, we would cook dinner together (the volunteers) and settle down to an evening of Netflix, or we would head out to the plethora of delicious restaurants local to us.

What did you do with your days off?

On our weekend off we decided to go to Lake Malawi for the night. The staff at the shelter helped us rent a car we drove down ourselves. It is such a good way to explore a country, on the road, and so this was a great experience. Lake Malawi was on my bucket list, so this was quite special, and it was nice to have a couple of days off relaxing!

During the weeks, we sometimes had the afternoons off and in this time, we would unwind either at my favourite coffee shop (Lark), play cards/ chess, read, go shopping, nap or spend time with the gorgeous shelter dogs.

What did you learn from the experience?

I learnt so much from this experience and could write paragraphs on this. Field anaesthesia was something I had not been involved with before and it made me realise how quick you must act when an animal is down in the field. This was exciting and quite stressful – but great for learning and improving my knowledge on anaesthesia. I improved my surgery skills and how to castrate a donkey, which I had never done before! Rabies is endemic in Malawi, and I learnt about the importance of educating the communities about this preventable virus.

What did you enjoy the most?

This is a tricky question since I literally enjoyed everything! Reflecting on my time in Malawi I think the surgery work tops it. Seeing an improvement in my surgical skills was extremely rewarding and I have Rebecca & Angus to thank for this. They are great teachers, so patient and also hilarious. They just made the whole experience SO fantastic and I truly believe I have made some friends for life through this experience.

Also, Malawi is just the most incredible place that I won’t stop raving about! The people made us feel very welcome and 2 weeks just wasn’t long enough to explore!

I would also like to mention the team at the LSPCA and say how grateful I am for how welcome they made us feel – I felt like part of the team from the minute I arrived and cannot wait to return & visit them again!

Do you have any advice for others thinking of volunteering?

Do not hesitate and just do it! I understand that volunteering in Africa, especially if applying alone, can be quite intimidating but honestly VEM makes this experience a breeze. Angus & Rebecca met me at the airport and drove me to the LSPCA, where we were staying. Since they know Lilongwe well, they were able to recommend where to go shopping, what restaurants to go to, etc. and this made settling in so easy. They even provided us with a phone with a SIM with data on with all the numbers saved that we would need throughout out stay. They have literally thought of everything, and they also ask for our feedback regularly as they are constantly trying to make the experience as good as possible. You will have a great experience and learn so much, so GO!!! I am already planning my return trip!

 

Heather McKechnie: Final Year Edinburgh Student

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Why did you want to volunteer abroad?

I have always wanted to volunteer with animals in Africa, and although I imagined this as being with wildlife, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to apply for a surgical trip abroad! As I want to specialize in surgery this was a dream combination for me. I have been doing volunteer work for over a decade, and a trip like this has been a lifelong dream of mine, and something I will certainly be doing again in the future.

Why did you decide to volunteer with Veterinary Education Malawi (VEM), working with the LSPCA?

The project from the outset gave a strong impression that the work makes a tangible difference in the community. Having now completed it, I can absolutely say this is true! Food insecurity is something most people never have to worry about, and the prospect of helping increase the health and welfare of working animals in a developing country was something I was eager to be a part of, and I am very thankful I was chosen to be a part of the Veterinary Education Malawi programme. 

What was your day to day routine like?

We would leave the LSPCA as a team around 8.00am and head out for either a dog or donkey day. The donkey days were shorter, but more physically demanding. The dog days were equal part spay and neuter. Generous and delicious lunches were provided. We would then come back to the LSPCA and cook dinner as a group (3 volunteers), and curl up on the sofa with the adoptable kittens and watch Netflix, go out for dinner, or spend time the VEM and LSPCA family.

What did you do with your days off?

We went on a road trip to the absolutely gorgeous Lake Malawi which I cannot recommend enough! The vets at the LSPCA arranged a rental car for us at a very affordable price.

What did you learn from the experience?

I learnt how to castrate a donkey! I am a smallies person and thus have very little equid experience, so this was a fun aspect for me that gave me a chance to do something I wouldn’t have otherwise learnt. I was given very thorough guidance on many surgical techniques, especially during the spay and neuter days, which have drastically improved my overall surgical skills. I learnt more about field anesthesia, and how to manage unexpected difficulties. This has given me more confidence with anesthesia in general as any other anesthetic event I encounter will be in a much more controlled environment (in hospital with an inhalant).

What did you enjoy the most?

Of course as an aspiring surgeon I loved the canine surgery and getting to operate independently which made me feel like a real vet/surgeon! I also really enjoyed the donkey anesthesia which was quite a surprise! My donkey ‘rugby tackles’ during recovery became a running joke, but helping them regain balance was fun, challenging, rewarding, and good exercise. Each donkey was a difference experience, and I loved being kept on my toes and challenged to make second by second decisions to keep their aesthetic plane at an appropriate and safe depth.  

Most of all, I enjoyed the comradery with the VEM team, Angus and Rebecca are some of the most wonderful people I have ever met. The two weeks were filled with non-stop laughter and encouragement and it was a wonderful environment to learn in. 

Do you have any advice for others thinking of volunteering?

DO IT!!!!!!! You will not regret it! The accommodation is lovely, Malawian’s are the nicest people you will ever meet, and you will learn a lot. I didn’t want to leave, and I already want to go back.

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Directions

You'll find us in Kanengo-Roberts/Area 28, on the outskirts of Lilongwe city. When driving from the city center/Lilongwe town on the M1, just passed Area 30 police, turn at Total filling station, then take your second turn to the right, then first turn left, and about 300 metres you'll see our signpost.

Hospital Opening Hours

Monday to Friday 07:30-16:30

Saturday 08:00-12:00

Sunday Emergencies Only

 +265 994 682 900 - Emergency (24/7)