Megan Murata, vet in training, Honduras
YouCaring Fundraiser: Journey to Veterinary Missionary
Mission: To serve developing countries by becoming a veterinary missionary and educating individuals on animal care and disease prevention.
When Megan Murata was a little girl, she dreamed of being a veterinarian. Little did she know then that one day, she would be putting her passion into action by utilizing her talent and skills as a vet in training to help people and animals in another part of the world—Honduras.
Within the agriculture system, there is a natural and symbiotic relationship between people and animals. Megan hopes to show populations in Honduras and other developing countries that healthy animals mean healthy people. While she is earning her veterinary degree, Megan continues to serve developing countries by sharing her knowledge about disease prevention, the agriculture system and veterinary animal care skills. Megan’s love for animals is at the core of who she is. She even started volunteering at a vet clinic at the young age of 11. She has already traveled to Honduras six times for missionary work.
To further her cause, Megan started a crowdfunding campaign on YouCaring that has raised more than $32,000. The campaign is dedicated to drumming up support to help pay for her veterinary schooling as well as various mission trips, all of which will prepare her for long-term service. She is on a mission trip to Honduras this month with Christian Veterinary Mission.
We spoke with Megan about Millennials, what drives her to give back and why her campaign has been so successful.
As a Millennial, how do you think the digital age has brought about new ways to give back?
The age of technology has definitely advanced the ability to share more giving opportunities through email and social networking, such as Twitter and YouTube, and via crowdfunding websites. This tool not only creates a window of giving back, but also provides the opportunity to develop relationships with people you may not otherwise encounter in your day-to-day life.
As a Millennial, what causes are you particularly moved by?
Poverty and neglect (especially experienced by children) are definitely worldwide issues that remain unsettled in my heart. One of my biggest “aha” moments was on my first mission trip to Honduras. Although I had been exposed to other countries and cultures before, it was eye-opening to get to know people my age and younger enduring such loss and hurt. I talked with several children and teenagers who had been abused, abandoned, neglected and forgotten from very young ages. However, these individuals were ripe with hope, faith, laughter and the will to do better for themselves. I was more than inspired; I felt that God was calling me to fulfill my duty and work alongside them.
Why do you think that Millennials are so cause-centric?
Today in the 21st century, we are all raised and pushed to do something, be something and work toward something—for example, a college degree, the next job, the new house or the next project. Although this mentality doesn’t necessarily push everyone to become “cause-centric,” I believe it opens up the opportunity to use that mentality for something bigger and meaningful.
Why did you pick YouCaring to host your fundraiser? How do you think crowdfunding has aided your cause?
I had looked through several crowdfunding sites before coming across YouCaring’s YouTube video explaining how the organization operated. I picked YouCaring based on the fact that it wasn’t focused on profiting from my fundraiser. It also provided a website that facilitated connections with my supporters through blogging.
There are many ways that crowdfunding has helped aid my cause. First, it has made me more responsible with my finances, challenging me to stay on top of my expenses and manage monies given. The connection aspect, as mentioned previously, is by far the greatest tool that crowdfunding, and specifically YouCaring, offers. I am able to connect and share my experiences with people across the globe. And finally, the ease of online giving has made it possible for lots of people to contribute.
What inspired you to want to become a veterinary missionary? What kind of work do you do in Honduras?
The idea of becoming a veterinary missionary came together over several years. I have always had a special love and passion for animals, and from a young age wanted to be a veterinarian. During my last year of high school, I felt a calling toward missions and felt torn between pursuing a college degree that would fulfill both missions and veterinary work. So why not both? I came across an organization called Christian Veterinary Mission (CVM), which sends vets across the globe to provide veterinary care and the gospel. I knew in that moment I was being called to serve as a veterinary missionary.
The work I do in Honduras has varied, from working in an orphanage, to serving on a medical missions team, to providing veterinary care and education to rural villages. Each trip has presented its own agenda and purpose, and God’s perfect timing. The trip I am taking during spring break will incorporate providing veterinary services to rural communities, education in animal care and disease prevention, and research to discover parasite presence and load.
What do you think have been the keys to success?
The keys to success have been the presence and guidance of God. He brought me to Christian Veterinary Mission at the right moment to help drive my undergrad major. He brought me through undergrad without debt and through several experiences that prepared me for veterinary school and missions. He brought me into vet school and walked with me through my first year and a half of this vigorous program. He led me to go on each of my six mission trips to Honduras and provided finances, safety and favor on each trip.
What have been some of the most important and challenging aspects of the experience?
One of the biggest challenges in veterinary missions has been facing the immense challenge of the great needs present in the world. How can my work really help anyone? Will helping people in my lifetime make a difference in the long term? Can I reach all of the people that God wants me to? Am I strong enough, smart enough and brave enough to do so? Although I have lots of doubts, God has continued to help me work through these questions as I have sought His wisdom and guidance.
Another challenging yet important part of missionary work is finances. To me, there is nothing more uncomfortable than being vulnerable and letting people know about my financial needs. I have struggled time and time again about justifying whether or not to even have a YouCaring page. Why would anyone want to give money toward my education and mission trips anyway? But God has reminded me that He is sovereign, He knows my need, and He is the one who moves people to give when the time is right.
What advice would you give other Millennials who want to start an online fundraising campaign for a humanitarian cause?
Although I have shared many of my personal uncertainties, I would encourage others to not be afraid to share you heart and passions with other people. Be honest and specific about what the funds raised are for, and remember to keep up with people who support you. It is other people’s joy to know how their support is affecting your efforts.
Make Your Mark
Megan’s story highlights the huge potential crowdfunding offers to any individual that utilizes it well. Just like Megan, you can take your passion and skills and fulfill your desire to give back to the greater good. Get started today by creating a campaign on YouCaring.
Megan’s story is part of a mulitpart YouCaring blog series, Millennials Making an Impact. Stay tuned for more and in the meantime, get inspired by other compassionate changemakers from the Inspiration section on our blog.