By Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP

I spent my Christmas vacation on a trip to Belize – but not the kind of trip to Belize that you are probably imagining. I wasn’t laying on the beach at a resort. I was wearing scrubs and boots while providing care for dogs, cats, sheep and horses in far less than ideal conditions!

This trip was part of my regular work with Christian Veterinary Mission. It was so good to get back in the field – there were no trips during the serious COVID crisis. The Belize team consisted of 6 veterinarians and 18 veterinary students. We provided free spays, neuters, vaccination, parasite control and basic medical care to animals that would not otherwise have access to care. We also had time to spend with the owners of these pets, providing education about animals along with encouragement and hope for their futures.

One of the best parts of this trip was spending 2 days working with young children from broken homes. We learned that over 80% of the children in Belize live in broken homes where it is very difficult for them to thrive. We were able to work with a ministry group that meets with these kids at least weekly. While we were there we played basketball and soccer with them, taught them how to ride horses and throw a lasso, and ate meals with them. At the end of the 2 days we gave each child a Christmas gift – a bag full of toys, health supplies andbasic necessities. The smiles on their faces was worth all the hard work of that week!

Most of my trips with Christian Veterinary Mission are focused more on teaching local veterinarians both medicine and leadership skills. I have been all over the world teaching team building, practice management and small animal medicine. I am looking forward to my 10th trip to Mongolia this August! These trips are so fulfilling for me, and I know I grow into a better person and better leader for ACC with every trip!