Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Grants are wonderfull!

I wake up and find myself in a raging river, floating like a corc (fortunately, I guess that accumulated ring of fat from sitting at a desk too much lately pays off even in my dreams). I look around and see rock faces passing by, fast. No time to stop, no time to rest, other than relaxing and taking the ride as it comes. Which includes to keep on swimming, and avoiding collisions with rocks in the way. Canyon walls on both sides and no way out, other than forward. Definitely no turning around. The current is strong. Hopefully there is no impassable white water, I think. Hopefully this water eventually calms down and gives me a safe exit back onto the land I long to feel under my feet. This is so fast it’s scary! Hopefully there is no tall water fall on my route before I can get out.... as I wake up for real...

What happened? I „took the plunge“ so to speak. I decided to „go for it“, fully follow my long time dream; After many years I tried to finally get financial support to do what I dreamt of creating, to leave behind as my life-time work. And, well, you know the story... We got the first grant! Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic won the Heska Inspiration in Action contest, I had a wonderfull, but brief trip to the US and received the Award for $25,000 to buy medical equipment and install it in the first ever wildlife clinic, which would at the same time serve to advance the veterinary profession through training and referral services for domestic veterinarians country wide. The greatest honor of my life to be trusted by so many and allowed to help in such ways. Two weeks later money was transferred.

My dream must represent that my life has truly felt like a wild white water ride in the past few weeks, finding out that AFTER the grant is even more work than BEFORE. Not that I wasn’t committed and prepared to give it my all and best, but on my rosy clouds I had not foreseen having to do so many things, all at once. Haha! that’s what you get for following your dreams :) A LOT OF WORK.

I keep internally humming „keep on swimming, keep on swimming“ (having watched Nemo the fish a few times...). I do this because I want to and I love what I do. I just don’t particularily enjoy some parts of it. Like spending 10 or 12 h in front of my computer. Morale of the story, definitely follow your dreams, but be ready to buckle down and work harder than ever before, and enjoy! It’s your dream after all.
I am far from done, but we have gotten so much help in addition to the first grant that it literally blows me away! I would like to and will thank each and every person for their help! I had resisted for years to come out publicly and ask for much help. So that I would, in my personal small ways, make a good contribution and set a good example for some (who would care to observe in those small circles). But now that „it is out“ so to speak, people from all over have stepped up to help. We have received $446 donations on our website! All from different unknown people. I would like to name them, but have to first figure out if that is ok... Stainless steel, cell phone, supplies, 10-50 % discounts on all medical equipments, books and standards! And my dearest helper in rallying contest votes through rotaract, Alfonso, is now working on the best shipping quote for us and it looks like we might get some good and reduced prices on shipping as well! Forest Department has offered to clear customs for us, since we are working to help them fullfill their mandate relating to wildlife conservation. And the building is amazing.

BUT a basic clinic setup could be estimated more at 200.000 value and we are truly playing gymnist and making it streeeeeeeeeetch, to improvise a clinic as state of the art as possible.
Currently I receive an internship request nearly every other day. Which is wonderfull because we hope to establish the internships to support wildlife work (many of our wildlife patients will be non-paying clients... especially rescues). Yet it is a lot of work to do it right. And in general I like to try to do things as best as possible. Our first two interns will be with us at the end of March, and we look forward to welcoming them and showing them what we are all about. And since I have been facilitating these student experiences in Belize for now over 7 years, I know we can do it and students will love it. None the less a bit nerve wrecking to have soo many new things at once?

And the best news on the grant front is: we have sourced some fantastic equipment and can’t wait to make this available asap!

I meet so many amazing new people, and old people, I am preparing to present at the MSBC /BWCN symposium at UB and have been nominated for the Gerald Thomas Award to visit New Mexico State University. And I have also been honored in other ways, by beeing elected on the Board of Directors of one of my favorite Belizean conservation organizations: Friends for Conservation and Development and nominated by Minster Montero onto the Veterinary Surgeons Board. I look forward to serving those positions to the best of my ability.

But looking at my schedule, I can’t believe it. No way out there either... It is FULL! And overflowing it seems. One of these first days after receiving the grant I briefly had the thought: my plate is so full I am afraid it just „broke“! I apologize for this surprisingly complainy blog and assure you I am and trust I will be: just fine!

And the biggest and most important thing for me these days is... to take it easy! And not exhaust myself and struggle against currents. If I go under now there is no way out. I have seen too many burn out. So I take a peacefull breath and jump back in the river and try to relax while I move forward at high speed, hoping to be just like my favorite quotation from the i-ching:

The highest good is like water.
Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.
It flows in places men reject,
finds the path of least resistance
and excites no rivalries.

The next blog will be a different story for sure! I felt the need to share another „personal view“ one but the future holds more Animals stories' (instead of my own) and the next clinic update is also overdue...

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