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Sri Lanka adventure for Suffolk nurse

PUBLISHED: 00:00 21 May 2004 | UPDATED: 04:54 02 March 2010

SEEING how animals are treated among some of the poorest communities in Sri Lanka was a real eye-opener for Felixstowe veterinary nurse Jennifer Mann.

She found many sick animals, others suffering from mange, lack of food and water, fleas and worms.

SEEING how animals are treated among some of the poorest communities in Sri Lanka was a real eye-opener for Felixstowe veterinary nurse Jennifer Mann.

She found many sick animals, others suffering from mange, lack of food and water, fleas and worms.

But thanks to the work of volunteers like Jennifer, prepared to stump up her own cash for the air fare and use holiday time, Sri Lanka's people are gradually being better educated and the health of their cats and dogs is improving.

Jennifer, 23, spent a hectic two weeks in Negombo with charity Home and Abroad Animal Welfare, working nine hours a day in temperatures up to 37 degrees C to treat animals and advise their owners.

"I had never been and it was a complete and utter culture shock," she said.

"I knew the animals would be in a mess because that was the reason I was going out there, but it was the poverty and the way people lived which shocked me. It was a million miles from home.

"Because they were so poor, looking after the animals was just not a priority.

"But having said that, they were not cruel to the animals at all, they didn't abuse them – it was just that they did not look after them properly."

Negombo is a very poor area, and although tourists do visit, they tend to stay in their hotel compounds relaxing by the pool and bring little economic benefit to the local community.

Jennifer, who has worked for the past six year as a veterinary nurse at Whitworths Veterinary Practice in Ranelagh Road, Felixstowe, paid for the trip herself with some sponsorship from family, friends and work colleagues.

While out in Sri Lanka she worked daily for a vet, transported by motorised rickshaw, going round the streets, meeting people and giving their cats and dogs treatment for worms, mange and fleas, or vaccinating them against rabies, or neutering strays.

"We also did educational talks in schools, prisons and churches to teach people how to care for their animals," said Jennifer, of Reedland Way, Felixstowe.

"Really it was teaching them basic things which we take for granted and do automatically – such as that it was necessary for them to give their dogs water, shade and a varied diet, and to keep them clean.

"So many of the animals were undernourished or had mange with wounds which could get septicaemia."

For those who had taken the advice on board and learned from previous volunteers, there were rewards – presents of shampoos, soaps, and other items.

"The people were really lovely and the children, too – if you gave the children sweets they wouldn't squabble, they would share them out," added Jennifer.

n Have you been involved in charity work abroad, or are preparing to take part in a project? Contact our newsdesk on 01473 324788.

WEBLINK: www.sri-lanka-dogs.org.uk

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