Veterinarian, Cinzia Cordella

Cinzia Cordella DVM MRCVS  Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

Cinzia Cordella DVM MRCVS
Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

“At the end of last summer I spent 2 months in Rarotonga, working as volunteer senior veterinary surgeon at the EHF.

When I landed at the Rarotonga Airport I knew that someone would be there to pick me up, but as I passed the arrival gates I soon learned that no one from the Esther Honey was there for me. I asked a lady who directed me to a nice guy who happily gave me a lift to the well known and admired charity.

I must say that during the time I spent in Rarotonga, over and over local people and tourists alike would offer to help anyway they could. This is not only in response to the good work that the charity has done for many years, but also for the foundation’s education program and the efforts that the clinic director Gregg Young has devoted to school presentations and developing many other community activities.

From the first day that I arrived at the clinic I received complete and friendly support from Gregg Young. When I arrived at the front yard of the clinic I was greeted by the big smile of Gregg and (then) senior vet, the lovely Michelle.

They both shook their heads and smiled at me saying that I got the arrival day wrong when I completed my pre-arrival forms. I had forgotten that because I had crossed the international dateline, Rarotonga is a day behind. They were not expecting me until the following day.

Later in the day we all went to the local community gym for a session of the Rarotonga island dance. Although I was tired it was very nice to get in contact with the local community on my first day.

The following days went smoothly, although Michelle’s tenure ended soon after my arrival. The first 3 weeks I worked alongside two lovely English newly qualified vets, Pip and Helen. The three of us had to deal with a very busy hospital with a variety of cases, mainly RTA (road traffic accidents) and fish poisoning. Gregg was always there for us and he would help with the daily cleaning of the caged animals.

We frequently went on home visits to check out an injured goat or pig.

During the time I was in Raro I also treated a hawksbill turtle which was exciting but also a huge responsibility to treat such a special and rare creature.

When Pip and Helen left, Chloé, Marié, Candace, and later, Christina and Jay arrived. Living and working at the surgery was always good fun. The accommodation is dorm-like, with a wide kitchen, and living room. We managed to find a good balance between work and time off. We would either go out dancing (happily even Cathy Sue Ragan-Anunsen, the foundation’s President and CEO joined us when she was on the island visiting the clinic) or stay in and all watch a movie with a big bowl of popcorn.

In my spare time I loved to go snorkeling or diving. The visibility is amazing in these waters over 40 meters, and the soft and hard coral is very rich and colourful.

The people of Rarotonga are appreciative of our services and I learned to level with our clients without judging. They are open to learn from vets about their animals, but we need to find the proper way to communicate effectively, just as we do with clients back home. An open mind and a willingness to work hard are all that is needed. The best remuneration will be a bunch of bananas or fresh papayas, and the friendliest smile you could imagine.

Seeing people dropping off or picking up their animal at the hospital in pillow cases hanging from the back of a bike or open pick-up was quite a new sight to me, but as soon as my prejudices for the animal welfare dropped I realized that this method of animal transport although far from ideal was quite effective and widely used.
My time at EHF was a balm for my spirit and I would do it again and again. I wish all the people working with the foundation all the best and hope that our roads will cross again.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Esther Honey Foundation for their support and for having me as part of their project.”

~Cinzia Cordella DVM MRCVS
Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons