Ayuda: More Than Just Sterilization Clinics

Ayuda is fortunate to have gained the support of two multicultural high schools located in Panajachel.  We are also about to welcome two students from the public school in Panajachel to our team in November.

Interested students are invited to attend our weekly sterilization clinics where they are offered a variety of experiential learning opportunities. These range from hands-on animal care, to photography,  to journalism,  to communications.

Here’s a lovely memory shared by one of our most treasured volunteers, Celine Boissy  who is on her way to a University next year to pursue a double major in Biology and International Relations. We are all very proud to call her a friend and know she will reach her dreams!

by: Celine Boissy, Ayuda volunteer and former student at PCI (Panajachel Colegio Internacional)

Among the Santa Cruz Mountains

A cluster of Mayan children were curiously searching for their dogs who were fresh out of surgery. Against the far wall, Guatemalan vets worked intently on the dogs in front of them. The vets intermittently called for me to translate from Spanish into Kaqchikel, in order to facilitate the proper intake of the villager’s dogs in this monthly sterilization clinic.

In my right hand I held 3 syringes of medication: a combo vaccine, an antibiotic, and an NSAID. I was focusing while calculating how many mls the pup needed before waking up from his drug induced sleep. A traditionally dressed child approached me and anxiously began tugging on my arm. In a rapid stream of Kaqchikel and broken Spanish she asked me to help her capture a feral dog and her puppies. I systematically asked her how big the pups were to make sure they were old enough to get sterilized, but I noticed that she didn’t understand me.

Her native language was Kaqchikel, the Mayan dialect of the village we were stationed in, and the primary language of the village I grew up near. I answered her in basic Kaqchikel and a few minutes later we rushed together out of the makeshift clinic and onto the rocky pathways that make up the trails of Santa Cruz La Laguna. Excitedly, two girls joined us and urged me to run faster, straight into the heat of the midday sun. Meanwhile, a pack of young kids trailed behind, running barefoot on the hot ground in an array of tattered pajama pants. One little boy had a drum and was wildly banging a tune as we ran. The kids chattered in an eclectic mixture of Kaqchikel and Spanish, excitedly discussing this wild dog and her puppies near so-and-so’s house.

Soon our small parade came to a halt. The girl, Maria, pointed up a steep and rickety stone path where an abandoned adobe house came into view. The only way up was to slowly creep around a small wall, where a treacherous fall awaited your misplaced step. Upon our arrival we sadly found an angry and protective mother dog, desperately shielding several dead puppies from our reach. Although we tried to soothe her with our kind words and a bit of bread, her vicious growl soon sent us on our way.  

Exhausted, we returned to the clinic where Maria was able to pick up her own pup who had just woken from surgery. By bringing in her pup, I explained to her, she had saved her own dog from having excessive puppies and thereby, rescued her from the unfortunate fate of the feral dog. In my country the overpopulation of un-neutered street dogs creates packs of unwanted animals that often pass on distemper, worms, mange, as well as zoonotic disease to nearby animals and humans. I’m humbled to have worked diligently for two years with a dedicated team of veterinarians and volunteers that have brought these clinics and thereby contributed through necessary action to help decrease the street dog population problem.

Between the many hours spent helping the vets and my interactions with the local villagers, I developed strong core values for supporting both the children and animals in my community. I learned the importance of working side by side others. Although we were from different ethnic and economic backgrounds, our good intentions bound us together on our mission. I learned that there is a universal connection that unifies us in times of need. I’m grateful for my upbringing amongst the people of our Santa Cruz pueblo as it has both taught me, two of the four languages I speak, while equally sculpting my dedication to my dreams and the pale blue dot we call home.

Celine preparing a health record as local Santa Cruz children watch.
Celine and a newly adopted dog.
Celine with a dog she helped find a forever home right here at Lake Atitlan.

Thank you, Celine! We all miss you!

Your kind donations help us humanely reduce the overpopulation of dogs and cats as well as support the hands-on education of local youths.

Please make yours today by clicking here.  Thank you!

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