In a special private audience with the team of twenty volunteers, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa personally thanked them all for their hard work and presented everyone with a mala as a token of his appreciation. He expressed his happiness at the continuing work and growing success of the Animal Medical Camp and shared his own plans to found both a permanent hospital for people and a veterinary hospital in Bodhgaya in the future. Dr Thinlay Nedup, head of the team, was able to inform His Holiness of the latest, exciting development: after a meeting with the District Magistrate and the Animal Husbandry Department, it had been agreed to establish a permanent ABCAR [Animal Birth Control- Anti-Rabies] facility in Gaya District.
Over ten days, this year’s camp treated 3,329 animals. This included 374 street dogs de-sexed and given anti-rabies injections, 1735 treatments by the outreach team in local villages, and 1259 treatments given at the outpatient clinic in front of the Monlam Pavillion.
The educational initiative, which comprised humane treatment of animals, dog-bite prevention and rabies control, reached 2,725 people, mostly schoolchildren and their parents.
Each year so far, one patient’s recovery has been an outstanding success and testament to the team’s endeavours. Last year it was a nanny goat that needed brain surgery for a parasitic infection. She came to the clinic blind and bleating with pain. She left able to see in one eye and pain-free. This year’s star patient was a badly-burned cow whose sacking had caught fire. [The local custom is to drape gunny sacks over animals to protect them from the winter cold.] She was discovered in a local village on the third day of the outreach programme. She had suffered deep burns around the neck which had become badly infected. Over several visits, the team was able to clean the wound, remove necrotic tissue, administer antibiotics, ease her pain and save her life.
After three successive years of Animal Medical Camp, this year several significant developments reflect the team’s achievement. Previously, the villagers had been highly suspicious, but now they trust the team. When the outreach team arrived in villages, the local people were awaiting them eagerly; some even phoned in advance to ask them to come. The vets commented on the growing confidence local people have in the team, perhaps best illustrated by the story of one villager who told them, “The medicine you gave cured our animals when the other medicines didn’t. Please give us some medicine too.”
In the past, there had been hostility and mistrust towards the dog-catching team. This year there was no wariness at all and local people helped in the round-up, realising from experience the benefits and knowing that the dogs would be returned safely.
Finally, a development in policy at municipal level has made it possible to establish a permanent ABCAR facility in Gaya District. It will be located in an old building made available by the municipality. Kagyupa International Monlam Trust will fund the refurbishment of the building and its running costs. The facility will be staffed by local vets and para-vets, trained for free by SARAH [Sikkimese Anti-Rabies and Animal Health Division] at their base in Sikkim. The W.H.O. (World Health Organisation) recommends this programme as the only method of controlling rabies infections in people, so it will bring great benefit not just to animals but to people as well.
Thus, the whole team finished their work feeling that the Animal Medical Camp has gone from strength to strength and committed to returning once again next year in order to continue their pioneering work here.
The team and Kagyu Monlam would like to thank the sponsors once more:
Brigitte Bardot Foundation;
SARAH (Sikkim Anti-Rabies Animal Health Division, Government of Sikkim);
Kagyupa International Monlam Trust;