Saturday, February 24

Aitutaki Vet Trek is finally here!

19 sq mi of lagoon
6.97 sq mi land
pop about 2000
cat population: “unknown” large feral population plus owned cats
Beauty of Aitutaki: unparalleled. “the Most Beautiful Lagoon in the World” (Lonely Planet quote)

Cats, Paying it Forward, and the Kindness of Strangers

A year go my husband and I came to this beautiful paradise, and as most people do, we fell in love with the islands, the people and communities. During our visit, a chance meeting on Aitutaki with someone who shares a passion for animals led to an idea being born to help with animal welfare, especially the cats of Aitutaki.

Almost a year later a small team of us arrive here in the Cook Islands with such gratitude for the phenomenal support we’ve received on so many levels and from numerous people and organizations. Our hearts soar to experience such warmth and true compassion. For us this is “paying it forward” to be able to help the animals and thus the people of the Cook Islands. It all started with the kindness of strangers, and now we know and understand that that is the Cook Island way.

We’d like to recognize and thank Gwen Welland and the people of Te Are Manu Clinic for all of their support and help with the government approval process, customs, helping us getting the donations we brought in order, and getting local support for our endeavors. We had quite a few changes and alterations during the process of coming here, and Gwen was always available to help get things through in a pleasant and efficient manner. Meitaki ma’ata Gwen.

Air Rarotonga has also sponsored us in a big way and has donated all 5 of our round trip airfares to Aitutaki. Thank you Ewan Smith, for your continuing support of the animals of the Cook Islands.

Thanks to the businesses and community of Aitutaki for their generous donations of dinners, lodging, a vehicle (with fuel) to pick up and return the animals, and even a Vaka cruise! When we’re not working we will certainly enjoy being able to drive to the lagoon, snorkel and eat some great food! Yumm!

Thanks to the Islander Hotel for 2 day rooms to rest and make ourselves presentable before going over to Aitutaki. Much appreciated!

We’d also like to thank the veterinary clinics of Corvallis and Eugene, Oregon, USA for their very generous donations of supplies, medicines, more supplies, and heaps of supplies! When we asked for just a few clinics to clean out their closets, they surely did! So much generosity made it hard to bring everything, but we managed to stuff 5 huge suitcases full to the brim! We know that the supplies will be well used and especially for the outer islands. Thanks Oregon! Could not have done this without you!

Also want to thank all the individuals in the states, both friends and new friends, who donated to our cause with cash donations to purchase many of the supplies for surgery. Again could not have done this without raising the money for the medicine purchases.

I’d like to introduce our team:

Dr. Sharon Forster-Blouin, DVM of Corvallis Cat Clinic, Corvallis, Oregon
Dr. G. Rochelle Brinton, DVM of San Diego, CA & founder of the Feral Cat Coalition of San Diego.
Ms. Sheri Pandey, CVT veterinary nurse, Corvallis Cat Care, Corvallis, Oregon
Mr. John Adams; assistant, all around go-for
Ms. Tomie Timon; assistant, chief cat herder and organizer of the mission

So when it’s all said and done, it always comes back to helping the animals.
They have no second agenda, their lives are valuable as are all lives, and if we can pay it forward to help them live better lives, what can be better?

Meitaki ma’ata and Meitaki atupaka!

Mataora matou, i te aere mai, ki konei!