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Volunteer Spotlight - Graeme Blanch visits Yuendumu

Vet and AMRRIC member Graeme Blanch recently volunteered on a remote dog health program in the Yuendumu, Yuelamu and Nyrippi communities in the Central Desert region, NT. Graeme shares his first time experiences here.

This was an amazing week, for my first week volunteering with AMRRIC.  It was arranged at short notice and I flew from Melbourne to Alice Springs, where Stephen and Linda picked me up at the airport. I knew immediately from their friendly smiles that the week would be enjoyable.

The program was delivered in the Central Desert community of Yuendemu, with a day trip to Yuelamu, and an overnight excursion another 200km west to Nyirripi.

We had an excellent team, with AMRRIC member vet Stephen Cutter from Darwin leading the way with his vast experience and knowledge, and backed up by Linda Bradbury who also has considerable experience working with Indigenous dog health programs. We also had vet volunteer Verity Ambler from Tallangatta.

In Yuendemu, Gloria Morales makes the dog program run - she is an inspirational woman. Gloria knew which families had dogs that needed vet work done to them and managed all the community engagement.  

Our surgery in the back yard of our house was immediately in action on Day One, Stephen gave the team an excellent demonstration of a dog flank spey to give us guidance.  As well as doing flank speys, we also did some minor surgeries on elbow lumps, and a” degloved” cat’s back leg.  

A highlight each night after work was a walk in the bush with Gloria’s 14 dogs, piled into two vehicles. The journey overnight to Nyirripi was another highlight, through desert oaks, coolabah trees and forests of ant beds. We stayed in a very comfortable empty house owned by the community. Full television services!

In Nyirripi, I had time to find Hilda Rogers, who painted a beautiful painting we own that we purchased in Yuendumu two years ago. I chatted with Hilda, her husband and grandson, and Hilda showed us her latest paining she was working on from home.

Overall, I really enjoyed my first week with AMRRIC, enjoyed the company, enjoyed meeting some of the inhabitants of the communities, and I plan to volunteer again.





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