Vet Net

VET Net in Mongolia 

American missionary couple Gerald and Frances Mitchum started up a Veterinary and Education Training network (VET Net), reflecting their own professional backgrounds.Covering an area about six times the size of the UK, Mongolia is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Out of the population of just three million, one million live in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, which also has the distinction of being the coldest capital city in the world. Mongolia is a country of vast open steppe grasslands, merging into the Gobi desert in the south and mountain forests in the north, along the border with Siberia. The traditional nomadic herding way of life still survives, with the herders moving their animals to follow the best grazing through the seasons. It was into this country that Gerald and Frances moved in 1995. At that time the country had recently emerged from the influence of the USSR, and it was in an impoverished state. In the early ‘90s there were no more than a handful of Christians, but through the work of the Mitchums and many others, the numbers of Christian believers in the country now number in the tens of thousands.VET Net has now expanded into a Mongolian led non-governmental organisation (NGO) which seeks to meet the needs for veterinary training and primary school education in some of the remotest areas of the country. Veterinary training helps sustain the herders’ way of life, by encouraging good standards of veterinary care not least to help their livestock to survive the long, harsh Mongolian winters. David Welchman from St Barnabas first visited Mongolia in 2002 after being introduced to the work of VET Net by a cattle vet friend who had visited the country previously. Since that time he has been able to return to the country on a regular basis, staying for two weeks each time. He’s been fortunate in being able to visit several different parts of the country, although not yet the extreme eastern or northern provinces. The way that VET Net works with countryside vets and herders has changed and evolved over the years, and his own involvement has changed correspondingly. Recently his veterinary work there has focused on parasite teaching and resistance to anthelmintics (anti-worm drugs).David says “As a short term visitor – called ‘shuttles’ by the VET Net team! – it has been a great privilege for to be able to put my veterinary training to practical use in Mongolia. I have also gained hugely in terms of my own Christian faith. One of my roles as a shuttle has been to help lead the morning devotions which are a regular feature of the life of VET Net, whether in their office in the capital or out on countryside trips. One of the great strengths of VET Net is the warmth of the welcome and hospitality that I, and all shuttles, have received.”In providing for veterinary and educational needs in Mongolia, VET Net is modelling Christ’s way of life in practical ways. Only limited resources are available and there are enormous distances to cover, but just as we read of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels, so VET Net is also seeking to bring that same Good News to people in the remote areas of Mongolia. There are extraordinary stories of peoples’ lives, and sometimes whole communities, being transformed as a