Vol­un­teer vet works with crip­pled farm­ers

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - ABBY BROWN

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.

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