Planning to spend at least six months volunteering in Rarotonga, Alex Liska spent the last six months working voluntarily in Thailand; a place she says cannot be compared in any way with the Cook Islands as far as animal care is concerned.
“In Thailand, the state of animal welfare was a lot worse. We only had basic medications to work with.
“Everywhere you go in Thailand you see sick dogs. I mean you see sick and homeless people, but the amount of stray and sick animals is huge. Rarotonga can’t be compared to Thailand.”
When she was interviewed for CI News, Liska had only been in the country for 10 days and hadn’t seen all that the Cook Islands had to offer. She also hadn’t had time to observe the issues concerning roaming dogs, malnourished animals or other animal welfare cases in comparison with what she saw in Thailand.
She happened upon the Esther Honey Foundation on Facebook some years ago, later deciding she would like to spend a year volunteering her services in foreign countries.
Working to save money so she could later focus solely on helping animals, Liska was able to merge her love for travel and animals into what she says has been a life-changing experience.
“I love to travel and I really want to help out where I can.”
Foreign volunteers have been helping out at EHF for years and clinic manager Jo Taylor-Kupu says she is frequently contacted by qualified vets and veterinarian from overseas.
“We receive volunteers from all over, New Zealand, Australia, United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, the Czech Republic, the Canary Islands, Africa, Sweden, France, Austria, Germany, Tonga, Poland, and that was just last year.”
But things aren’t quite so rosy when it comes to attracting local volunteers.
“I am trying to engage locals and have some incentives I am just about to put in place, but (the fact that we use so many overseas volunteers) is mainly because they are qualified veterinarians or nurses and senior vet nurses.”
The clinic usually has a steady stream of volunteers. This week five people are helping out and next week there will be seven.
“We try to have volunteers all year round and are lucky with those we do acquire.”.
Taylor-Kupu said the clinic was very lucky to have Liska staying six months, as volunteers mostly stay anywhere from a few weeks to a month.
Anyone interested in volunteering at the Esther Honey Foundation should phone Jo on 22336.