Dr. Debbie Hoffele
We will all remember the year of 2020. New words entered our vocabulary like “social distancing” and “physical distancing” and we were encouraged to stay apart, not to gather and stay safe. Christian Veterinary Mission has been able to use this environment of staying apart to come together. One of CVM’s affiliate organizations has used this time to strengthen their connections and become more connected with other CVM veterinarians.
Dr. Dickson Paul is the CEO of VetNet India Foundation. When the pandemic started in March 2020 and all their short-term trips were cancelled, the VetNet India Foundation veterinarians embraced technology and started a weekly webinar series using Zoom. CVM got involved by offering their Zoom account to extend the meeting time available for the webinars. Dr. Dickson worked with Evelyn in the STM office and CVM veterinarians from other countries started to get involved. Many of these veterinarians were active participants in CVM’s short-term program and they also had been disappointed by the cancellation of their trips. Dr. Dickson helps speakers from outside India ensure their presentations are culturally appropriate for the veterinary industry in India. For example, he will send photos of veterinary drugs available that are specific to the topic that the speaker can incorporate into their presentation. Dr. Debbie is one of those veterinarians who had been to India five times in the past. Her trip to India for May 2020 was cancelled, but she has been able to present two webinars in the series. Getting to know Dr. Dickson during this time has strengthened her desire to continue to serve in short-term mission in India as soon as possible.
CVM’s mission is to challenge, empower and facilitate veterinary professionals in the US and abroad. This webinar program allowed veterinarians to share their expertise and skills online with other veterinarians even without travelling. Our theme this year of “Rooted” is illustrated in this partnership. We have had veterinarians from US, Canada, UK, Australia, and India as presenters in the series and had webinar participants from the same countries. Topics have included both small and large animal topics and were presented by specialists or general practitioners with a special interest in the field. As of January 2021, there had been 33 webinars in the series with 12 – 60 participants at each one. Like the roots of a tree growing and spreading, this is an example of the love of Christ being shared among veterinarians along with the sharing of veterinary knowledge.
VetNet India Foundation has done online trainings for rural Indian farmers during the pandemic lockdown. While the online training have been an amazing success during COVID-19 restrictions, Dr. Dickson Paul looks forward to time again CVM veterinarians can work side by side with him on short-term trips back into rural villages and be able to host a veterinary conference together.
If you have an area of special interest, the webinar series is still on-going, and Dr. Dickson is adding new dates. This is a great way to be able to connect with veterinarians in another country and share veterinary knowledge and the love of Christ. We are thankful for the technology that makes this happen and to Dr Dickson Paul’s dedication to keep organizing week after week.
As we continue through 2021 and are still limited in travel, let’s remember the ways that staying apart has brought us closer together and continue to look for opportunities to serve even in unique ways.