My husband and I went to a veterinarian dinner meeting last Tuesday night. The company was entertaining, the food was excellent. I’d expected that, but I sure hadn’t expected the emotional impact of the second speaker’s presentation.
I was in awe and in near tears, listening to Dr. Darrow, a veterinarian from a small town in rural Iowa. He spoke about his college years at Iowa State, where he was on the track team. At a recent track team reunion, he learned of a tragedy: a Kenyan member of the team had lost his little girl, Sharon, to rabies after she was bitten by a rabid dog. Unbelievable though it seems, 24,000 people die of rabies in Africa every year. Mostly children, mostly bitten by the domesticated dogs which wander freely in the villages.
The news about Sharon affected Dr. Darrow so deeply that he began planning a mission trip to Kenya. His goal was to find some helpers and donations of rabies vaccine, and then vaccinate as many dogs, cats and donkeys for rabies as they could. And last January, it happened. Named Sharon’s Project, after that little girl, he and his helpers vaccinated 14,997 dogs, almost 2000 cats and 600 donkeys in areas where no one has enough money for their own health care, much less vet care for their animals. People in remote villages swarmed to the vaccination sites with their pets and any strays they could gather, for rabies deaths in that country are far too common.
For Dr. Darrow’s second trip, coming up in January, Merck Labs has already promised to donate 90,000 doses of rabies vaccine. And now, he dreams of finding a way to fund and set up a medical clinic for the villagers in the area. Isn’t it wild how a chance encounter in life can lead to so much more?
When I got home, I wondered if there might be anything on YouTube about the project, and sure enough there is, at http://youtu.be/dQ7lGcP1Pms. Do watch the video….the first couple minutes are of Sharon’s grieving parents and are a little hard to understand, but the statistics and images in the video just took my breath away.
This isn’t some major group spearheading this effort–in fact, the video just had 104 views at the time I am writing this post. Just one man asked himself why even one child had to die from rabies in that country…and the fact that he followed through on his concern is now making such a difference.
Goes to show that when someone says, “I’m just one person–there’s nothing I can do” he is sooooo wrong!