Expanding horizons ‘Beyond Students for Change’: rabies elimination efforts in Ethiopia.
Our story begins with a passionate young student who is driven to improve veterinary education in his country – Ethiopia. Two special issues rang true with Yimesgen: rabies elimination; and improving the livestock sector. After nearly a decade of assisting with mass dog vaccinations and educating community members, he went on to found and coordinate the “Beyond Student for Change” initiative. “Beyond Student for Change” is run by a collaboration of young and visionary Ethiopian students in the field of veterinary medicine who come together from different universities and work towards the same goal – changing the status of veterinary education and the livestock sector in Ethiopia. The idea is that students with commitment, potential and a strong work ethic take the lead and drive a shift towards a sustainable future focused on improving the Ethiopian economy through animal health. The initiative is aimed at promoting the role of veterinary medicine, one health, animal welfare and improving Ethiopia’s livestock sector – all of which are heavily affected by rabies. Therefore, at present, many of the activities driven by the initiative focus on rabies and its elimination from Ethiopia.
As part of the global effort to end rabies by 2030, Beyond Student for Change drives efforts by vaccinating dogs and implementing broader community sensitization activities. Since starting in 2018, the organization has branched out of their local communities to broader areas across the country. To date, the initiative has undertaken many vaccination campaigns at Jimma town in parallel with the world veterinary day and World Rabies Day celebrations. Besides volunteering their time and efforts on rabies vaccination campaigns Mr. Yimesgen and the Beyond Student for Change group are well known for their public lectures on the public health importance of rabies and other zoonotic diseases, and the need for a One Health approach in combating zoonotic diseases in Ethiopia. By being equipped with the knowledge gained from the Rabies Educator Certificate course offered by GARC, Mr Yimesgen and his group are able to share knowledge, educate others, and raise awareness about rabies in communities using the most up to date information. Through efforts such as these, Beyond Student for Change are able to drive their agenda towards a rabies-free Ethiopia.
Beyond Students for Change aims to make students more than simply future workers and professionals, but rather works to drive change and expand current horizons to generate a better, sustainable and healthier future, not only for themselves, but for the animals and communities that they touch. By working in partnership with government ministries and stakeholders, Beyond Student for Change contributes towards a long-lasting and sustainable plan to eliminate rabies in Ethiopia by 2030.
Like Yimesgen and his student group, you can also become a certified rabies educator so that you too can make a difference and build a better, more sustainable future by contributing to rabies elimination. Anyone can do the course, and everyone can benefit to learn and spread the word about rabies and how we are working together towards its elimination. Become certified here.
Article contributed by Yimesgen Tarekegn, Founder and CEO, Beyond Student for Change, Ethiopia.