Veterinarian Dr Diki Palmu, who runs the Sikkim Project, has an interesting and inspiring story. Few women hold ground-breaking roles such as she does, in what is very traditional Sikkim. Even a woman taxi driver there was forced out of business because men wouldn’t be driven by a woman.
Diki (above with VBB trainer Dr Rowan, Uni of Queensland) is the first woman vet in her region and also highly skilled in veterinary surgery and clinical medicine. While these are significant facts, perhaps they are not so surprising when you get to know and work with her, as many VBB volunteers have done.
They’ve seen Diki ferociously maintain excellent standards in running the Gangtok operation. She also consistently passes on the skills she learns from our volunteers to local SARAH project paravets, as well as students and post-graduate vets from all over India, such is her reputation.
She undertakes mobile clinics in ABC-Anti-Rabies for weeks at a time, juggling family life (Diki has two daughters with husband and fellow vet, Dr Thinlay Bhutia) and planning the extensive logistics of the annual state-wide rabies vaccination campaign that runs every September/October in Sikkim.
Diki is resolute in many other ways too: at times she has to hike difficult terrain for hours to operate on a cow on the side of a mountain. And Diki must surely now hold the record for the most dogs sterilised and vaccinated in one day when she recently operated on 52 dogs at one field camp in East Sikkim! She tried to stop work after about 30 dogs, asking for the remaining animals’ carers to bring them back the next day. But they said, “No, we have walked three hours to bring the dogs here today and we have to go home tonight.” So Dr Diki and her team worked on into the night, insects buzzing around the lights, until the job was done.
Dr Diki sees all these opportunities as given by the VBB project and just some of the reasons the Sikkim communities are thankful for supporters of VBB, who make it happen.
Below: Diki pictured with VBB volunteer, Dr Bronwyn Sharman.