Volunteer stories: Michelle Schimanski

Michelle is a Veterinary Nurse at Hunterville Vet Club who undertook her first trip for SPAW to Tonga in May.

Michelle says: “From a young age, I’ve harboured a deep passion for animal health and welfare, which inspired my career as a veterinary nurse. A colleague frequently shared her experiences volunteering with SPAW and the fulfilment it brought providing care to Tonga’s needy animals. When she invited me to apply for a trip, I jumped at the opportunity. I remember shouting with joy when my application was accepted.

“It’s astonishing how many locals seek veterinary care at SPAW’s clinics once they’re operational. It was evident that the majority of these cats and dogs were well cared for. After treating each animal, the gratitude and appreciation from their owners were overwhelming. I’ve never encountered such a content and relaxed group of people.

“In the lead-up to the trip, I believed we could assist every needy animal on the island, ensuring a better future for them. However, the reality was that we could only aid those brought to the clinic by locals. The contributions of SPAW and its volunteers are both vital and indispensable.

“The trip with SPAW has taught me to appreciate our daily lives and the exceptional 24/7 veterinary care we have in New Zealand for our cherished animals. The heartfelt thanks we received for providing basic care to these animals is unforgettable.

“I’ve grown into a better version of myself, learning that my volunteer work with SPAW positively impacts not just the animals, but also Tonga’s community. SPAW and these animals depend on your readiness to help. Without our intervention, they face preventable diseases, uncontrolled breeding, and rampant fighting. If you’ve ever considered volunteering, just do it.”

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