Meet Pooja Mishra, a student of veterinary science at the University of Melbourne who has devoted her working life, including much of her spare time, to caring for sick and unwanted animals.
Pooja has come to our attention because of a campaign that has been launched by her supporters to help her finish her studies so that she can fully realise her dreams.
One look at her CV and it is easy to see why Pooja has fans.
Her work experience includes a 10-year stint with Welfare of Stray Dogs, an organisation working to eradicate rabies and control the street dog population in her birth city Mumbai, India. As project manager, Pooja’s duties included catching dogs for desexing, administering rabies vaccinations and providing them with first aid and shelter.
During this period, Pooja also travelled to Ladakh and Sikkim where she volunteered with Vets Beyond Borders, an Australian-based charity that operates animal welfare and veterinary training programs around the world.
Although working to the best of her abilities at this time, Pooja began to feel frustrated by her lack of qualifications. She realised that to achieve even more for her animal patients, she needed the skills of a veterinary surgeon. This is when she decided to enrol in a four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Melbourne.
Pooja has now completed three years of her four-year degree. As an international, full fee paying student, Pooja has until now been able to afford her studies thanks to assistance from family and friends, and her work at the East Bentleigh Veterinary Clinic in Melbourne.
But her ability to make ends meet has finally been exhausted. Pooja needs $62,000 by the time the university term begins in February, or she will have to postpone her studies.
Pooja’s friends won’t have any of it. Which is why one of them, Dr Beth McGennisken, who met and worked with Pooja in India, has started a page on GoFundMe, in an attempt to raise the required amount. So far, $23,970 has been donated.
The hope of Dr McGennisken and others is that by sharing Pooja’s inspiring story, even more people will feel compelled to help.