Volunteer vet works with crippled farmers
Frank Rowson saw the lingering effects of Agent Orange when he volunteered as a vet in Vietnam.
‘‘There were crippled children, people with no eyes, one arm, no arms, no legs,’’ the retired veterinary surgeon said.
Working with crippled farmers who had suffered the side-effects of the defoliant, used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, was just one of the challenges the then 67-year-old faced during his seven month volunteer trip to Quy Nhon in 2006 and 2007.
The farmers had gone from having five or six cows to increasing their numbers to 500 or 2000.
‘‘It was the wrong place to farm- they only had rain two months of the year onto sand.’’
Liver fluke, which was transmittable between cattle and humans, was another big issue.
He estimated that 35 per cent of the people in the area had it .
Much of the landscape was bleak as there was a lot of illegal teak logging, he said, and mining of marble and granite.
He first visited Hanoi with his granddaughter, because he was interested in the Vietnam War, indigenous people and American history.
He saw a link between the war and domestic violence.
‘‘America had wanted to impose its will, with disastrous consequences.’
From 1987 to 2006 he ran a Matamata domestic violence group.
He would talk to local men, children and families who had anger issues about the symptoms of anger so they could recognise them and prevent them from taking over.
He also talked to people who out on probation.
‘‘There was only one fella I was scared to talk to.’’
He had thrown his partner through a glass door.
Rowson came to New Zealand from the UK in 1965.
His family then moved to Tonga for a two year contract under the British Government on a million dollar agricultural development scheme.
He went back to the UK before spending ‘‘three years in purgatory’’ of being a vet in the meat industry in the South Island before moving to Morrinsville.
He then ran a animal health practice that is now known as Anexa in Matamata for 20 years.
Frank Rowson volunteered as a vet in Vietnam and found it both challenging and rewarding.