Kindness is the Universal Language

Kindness is the Universal Language

There are 42 unique ethnic tribes in Kenya, each with its own distinct language. Most Kenyans speak at least three languages: that of their native tribe, English (actually, British) and Kiswahili (also called Swahili). Kenyans who are from mixed-tribe families are able to converse in all of the tribal languages of their parents and grandparents. Swahili originated several centuries ago as an amalgam of the tribal languages and Arabic, as a means of facilitating communications between the disparate tribes and the Arab colonists on the east coast. When in Kenya it’s not unusual to hear one individual flawlessly shift between a tribal dialect, Swahili and English all in one conversation, not to mention that many Kenyans in the tourist industry also speak many of the European and Asian languages in order to serve the many tourists that visit. The power of that multilingualism is impressed upon this monolingual American every time I visit this fascinating country.

Simon teaches children kindness in Kenyan | Vet Treks FoundationKenya will surprise you in other ways. In 2016 when Vet Treks volunteers worked with African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) to provide a mass rabies vaccination campaign across many communities, I noticed that people seemed to be more partial to cats than to dogs. Many people in Kenya keep cats indoors and dote on them as beloved pets. These cats are often so docile that people will bring them to a rabies vaccination station in their arms (no kitty crates are ever seen) and I never witnessed any of these cats freaking out with the commotion around them. Dogs on the other hand are either feral or kept outdoors on tethers only for the purpose of guarding families’ compounds. They seem to be more feared and disregarded. I regularly saw dogs dragged into the clinic against their will, at the ends of twisted wire tethers, or pulled awkwardly by one of their legs. I’m told that one reason for this is fear of bites and rabies, historically owing to a 15th century rabies epidemic that killed thousands of animals and people, and of course rabies remains a concern today.

Teaching kindness to dogs in Kenya | Vet Treks FoundationWhile manning a vaccine station in Rukanga, I watched as Simon (an ANAW employee) approached a group of school children who had dragged in a young puppy, a tight rope around its neck. Simon is a big, imposing man with a commanding, deep voice. I wondered if he would reprimand them or take the puppy away. But as he quietly spoke to them in their own language he was smiling, and at one point gently reached out stroked the head of a boy in front. Then he leaned over and stroked the puppy in the same loving manner. Even though I understood not a word he spoke, I knew that he was speaking to them about kindness and empathy. When the kids left with the puppy one of them was carrying the pup in his arms. This was a beautiful reminder to me that, in a world fraught with cruelty and division, kindness is a choice and it can be shown in any language, with or without words, and kindness ultimately is what changes attitudes and behaviors.

Experience this yourself. Join Vet Treks Foundation in Kenya in February 2018!

2018 Kenya Service Trip | Vet Treks Foundation

Whole Crew from Kenya 2016 | Vet Treks Foundation

We are excited to announce that Vet Treks Foundation will return to Kenya In February 2018!

We will be working with our wonderful partners at African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) in Machakos County, near Nairobi. Our one week project will provide continuing education to local veterinarians covering current spay/neuter techniques and anesthetic updates, followed by a three-day spay/neuter campaign offered free to the local community. Rabies vaccination will be provided to all animals as well. 

Ivory: Sell It Or Burn It?


Tusks ready for burning in Nairobi National Park, Kenya, April 29, 2016

Kenyan tusk stockpile: Nairobi National Park, Kenya

In 1979 the population of the African elephants was estimated to be 1.3 million. Over the following decade, events worldwide occurred that dramatically drove up the demand for ivory. Namely: improving economies and the resultant increased demand in Asian countries where ivory confers status. More recently, the recognition of the ease of obtaining raw ivory through poaching, and the value of that ivory which could be used to fund armies and terrorist activities, has led to the formation of Asian-based/African-run organized crime syndicates. These groups possess expensive and sophisticated arms and other equipment by which they can “slaughter and extract” ivory from whole herds very quickly.

One Health, Plus One

Hello world and welcome to the very first Vet Treks blog!

We are excited to move forward with our dream of serving animals and people in developing countries around the globe.

Get Involved

Vet Treks travels with teams of animal lovers, caregivers and experts to underserved areas of the world to participate in activities that advance the cause of animal welfare.  We specifically choose projects that also have a positive impact on community public health, the environment, local economies, or all of these.

The value of travel to these areas goes both ways: our projects and travel dollars support the communities we visit and our participants experience the travel to some of the most astounding places on earth.  Travel as a force for good!

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