Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Guyana, South America

Project: Guyana, South America
May 8th-May 23rd, 2007

Due to communication difficulties, this is the first contact with the team in Guyana. Below is four days worth of journals. To view pictures of the trip, please visit


More Blog entries and photos will be added as they are sent from the Team.

Day One:
Tuesday, May 8th, 2007
Team arrives at Vancouver International Airport
Team Members:
- Donna Lasser, R.A.H.T & Team Leader
- Jennifer Picard, Photographer
- Dr. Neil McKenzie, Equine Specialist
- Dr. Gwen McKenzie, Small Animal Veterinarian
- Dr. Terill Udenberg, Small Animal Veterinarian
- Brenda Russell, R.A.H.T.
- Vince Nickel, Veterinary Assistant

We sorted through all of our medical supplies and distributed them amongst all of our suitcases, as we were only allowed to take two bags per person, with a maximum weight of 60 pounds each.

The two medical supply suitcases were slightly overweight and the carrier wouldn't make any exceptions; we were therefore charged an extra $80 for overweight luggage.
We boarded our flight at 4:15pm bound for Toronto and embarked on an adventure of a lifetime, arriving at Pearson International Airport in Toronto at 11:30pm. Tera Udenberg, R.A.H.T. arrived half an hour later on a flight from Edmonton, Alberta to complete the team.

We then proceeded to look for a comfy place to sleep as our flight was not scheduled to depart until 6:30 am, bound for Georgetown, Guyana, South America.

We found some big ol' comfy couches in the lobby of the Sheridan Hotel (in the Airport) and remained there for 6 hours until we had to check in for our flight. (Fortunately, the people working there were nice enough to not kick us out!)

Day Two:
Wednesday, May 9, 2007

After virtually no sleep and consuming too many sugary cookies we proceeded to go check in for our flight at 4: 45 am in the morning. We again had to do some rearranging of all our medical supplies as we didn't want to be overweight again and have to pay extra.

The carrier was nice enough to make exceptions for us by letting us take all of our vaccination bags on the plane, in spite of the fact that we were over our carry-on limit of one bag each weighing no more than 5kg.
We then boarded our flight at 6:30 am and took off at 7:00am bound for the unknown. It was a six hour flight filled with lots of turbulence, bad movies, much needed sleep, and just overall good times.

We arrived in Georgetown, Guyana at 12:55pm and were welcomed with a blast of hot humid air, partly due to the fact that we disembarked from the plane directly onto the tarmac. We then stood in line for an hour and waited for our turn to pass through customs. Thankfully, we had no problems getting our drugs and medical supplies through customs. We were welcomed by Joyce Gomez, Native of Guyana and presently a resident of Vancouver, B.C., Oliver Insanally of the GSPCA, and Dr. Nicholas Waldron, Veterinarian.

On our way to Georgetown from the Airport we were amazed with the number of cattle, horses, goats, donkeys and dogs that were running loose on the side of the road. We were also a little confused and petrified with the driving conditions. Everyone here drives on the left side of the road; there are no street signs or stoplights; everyone walks all over the roads, children, animals, bikes, horse drawn carts, people carrying loads on their heads; and here the cars have the right away, not the pedestrians.

Our guides were kind enough to pick us up and take us out to dinner for some Guyanese food and then took us to a meeting where we were greeted by the entire board of directors from the GSPCA. The purpose of this meeting was to go over our itinerary for the next 14 days and collectively plan out what we wanted to accomplish over the next 2 weeks.

During the meeting Jen's legs became a feast for many hungry mosquitoes! She developed quite the swollen ankles, something that Donna has struggled with on previous trips…

Next, we settled into our rooms at the Rima Guesthouse in the heart of Georgetown graciously provided by Joyce Gomez. We all then passed out surrounded by our mosquito netted beds! Ah, relief!

Day Three:
Thursday, May 10, 2007.

6:30 am Wake up, 3:30 Vancouver time! Whew!
We were picked up at 7:15am by a couple of members of the GSPCA and then
proceeded to go out for a lovely breakfast at the Pegasus Hotel on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

After breakfast, we went to a meeting at the Ministry of Agriculture where we were introduced to the Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Elias as well as several other Veterinarians from different regions in the country (mainly large animal vets). The meeting ended around 11:00am and were transported to the GSPCA where we commenced our first day of surgeries (12 in total).

A woman by the name of Syeada Manbodh, who has done tremendous work for the dogs and cats in Guyana, took Jen out on a stray dog-feeding mission. Syeada makes food at her home and feeds these stray dogs everyday in different parts of the city. She took Jen to the poorest neighbourhood in Georgetown called Boystown where she gave a little boy with a dog on a rope a brand new leash & collar. He was so happy and thankful.

They also put up some posters for a cat named Princess that has been living at the Highschool and is in need of a good home. She is such a sweet cat.

Our Equine Veterinarian, Dr. Neil Mackenzie went into the streets of Georgetown and began working with the cart-horses. At one point the cart-horses and their owners were lined up down the road patiently waiting for their examinations. Equine Encephalitis has been a major health problem amongst the horses in Guyana for many years and Neil was able to vaccinate each horse against this disease, with vaccines donated from Intervet and Wyeth. He was also able to diagnose several cases of lameness, and other health problems. All of the horses he examined were also given dewormer, courtesy of Vetoquinol.

After a hard days work we convinced the president of the GSPCA, Oliver to take us across the street to the busy market place, which he reluctantly agreed to. The market was mainly filled with fruits and vegetables and even some hoodlums. We unfortunately witnessed a guy getting punched in the face and then being chased by another man with a knife. One of the team members, Tera, had to hide behind her father Terill as the man with the knife came running past her. Scary moments. Everyone bought some coconuts, cut open by a gentleman with a machete (and only four fingers…) and drank the milk through a straw.

At the end of the day, the group all went for dinner across the street from the their rooms and then prepared their medical supplies for the next day.

Day Four:
Friday, May 11, 2007

After breakfast the Team met at the Canadian Embassy to register as being in the country of Guyana. We requested a meeting with the Canadian High Commissioner and were ushered into his office where we discussed the purpose for our visit and our long-term goals for the animals.

As fate would have it, Ms Lawrie from CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency)
was scheduled to meet with the High Commissioner and joined in on our meeting, where we created the possibilities of CAAT working with CIDA in Guyana in the near future.

Ecstatic about our meeting, we left for a hard days work at the GSPCA where we were able to spay 8 dogs, and 2 cats. We also had the opportunity to do health exams on several dogs and cats. All animals were vaccinated (Vaccines provided by Intervet), had ear cleanings, and had Revolution (Donated by Pfizer) applied.

At 3:00 pm several of the team members met with the Minister of Agriculture for the Country where we were able to state our purposes for coming to Guyana as well as our long term objectives.

We then returned to the GSPCA at 4:30pm and performed four more surgeries and then retired for the night at 8pm.

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