In March 2013, volunteers from Infinite Hope visited Siem Reap, Cambodia, to render aid to sick, injured and stray cats and dogs living around the famous temple complex, Angkor Wat. According to Infinite Hope volunteer, veterinarian Catherine Wood, the smaller temples in Cambodia “serve as unofficial animal shelters.” Infinite Hope set up free clinics in four of the local temples.
The animals in Siem Reap were in great need of help — after decades of civil war and genocide, not a single veterinarian remained in Cambodia’s second largest town. Word spread about Infinite Hope’s efforts, and Cambodians began to arrive with puppies and kittens in baskets, on bikes, and on the back of motorized scooters, or “tuk-tuks.” Volunteers joined in, as well, including Nitasha Chaudrey, an Austrialian veterinarian vacationing in Siem Reap, veterinary technicians Patrick Edwards and Surey Mam, medical student Sarah Andiman, and Stephanie De Graff and Anna Bella Betts.
Armed with supplies donated generously by companies including MWI and Securos, veterinarians Erica Morgan, Catherine Wood and Nitasha Chaudhaty preformed dozens of surgeries in the ninety-five degree tropical heat, including spays and neuters on picnic tables covered with garbage bags. Infinite Hope President Una Elias assisted by holding the animals while they were vaccinated, and tying on blue and pink ribbons to identify those animals already treated. Infinite Hope also trained local veterinary technicians to continue the work moving forward.
While Infinite Hope hoped to treat about one hundred animals, over three hundred animals ended up receiving medical care. Local rescuer Josette Vannuer thanked Infinite Hope for helping her rescue cats and kittens: “I felt so helpless until now. Infinite Hope and the veterinarians and volunteers made me feel that I wasn’t alone anymore. So many animals were saved thanks to their efforts.”
A special thanks goes out to Amanda Leighton and Floyd Woodburn of MWI, and Melissa Deorsey, Monique Deary and Kate Carmody of Securos. Without their help and the assistance of veterinary technician Kimmy Mazzola and an anonymous donor, this effort would have been impossible.
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