July 31, 2011 - 8:00 am
Our time in Uganda has flown by so quickly. We are near the end of our trip and working harder than ever to try to finish all of the things that we want to accomplish while here. Jess and I have realized that we are just unable to say no and as a result, we have been working sometimes as much as 15 hour days to try to get the work done. As rewarding as it is, I think we will be ready for a vacation at the end.
One week ago we trained 14 lead farmers as Paravets. The selected members are model farmers in their communities who have very good animal management practices. We spent one week training them on the in’s and out’s of goat and pig husbandry and taught them the basics of veterinary medicine so that they can provide medical services to the animals in their community who would otherwise not have access to any treatment. The week was so rewarding. We had such a great bunch of members who were so eager to learn. They all excelled in the course and asked very good questions throughout the week. The supertrainers (paravets with advanced training) who were trained in previous years joined in the teaching and helped very much with the practical training. It was so great to have them there. One of the previously trained paravets, Innocent from Nyamuyanja biked 3 hours each way to the demonstration site where we held the training so that he could advance his knowledge. He is such an inspiration. Innocent had to drop out of school in primary 4 because his father died. Even still, he managed to teach himself English. He is very well spoken in English, is very intelligent and incredibly inquisitive. I’ve never met someone who asks as many great questions as he does. He never gives up on learning!
We had the paravet graduation ceremony on Saturday which was an incredible day. The members received a FAOC & VWB apron, a graduation certificate and a medical kit filled with all of the medicine and equipment that they needed. We had many great speeches and the members promised to make us proud. It was one of the greatest days here so far. It was such an honor to teach a bunch of amazing people and it was great to see how appreciative they were. I’m confident that they will do great things for their communities!
This recent week, we have been tying up loose ends. Although we only have 1 more week after this, we are still madly searching for goats. Many members have worked so hard to build beautiful goat pens and meet all of the requirements for receiving a goat that we just cannot disappoint them. Also, all of the 7 new groups have only received female goats and do not have a FAOC breeding buck so we are going to provide each group with one as well. On Wednesday, we took all of the new paravets to St. Jude Family project and rural training center which is a self-sufficient production farm. The paravets had to be ready for 6:30 in the morning (they likely had to get up very early to travel to the meeting site) since the farm was 3 hours away but they were just so excited I don’t even know if they slept the night before. We rented a costa (a 21 person bus) and the whole way to and from Masaka (the town where the farm is) the paravets were laughing, clapping, singing, etc. At the farm, there was a training session about successful farming and all of the ways that these paravets can achieve success. It was such an amazing place. I will be taking back many of the ideas to Canada! On the way home, we provided the group with pictures from the previous training week. I have never seen these people happier.
On Thursday we had a vaccine day for Kigyendwa, one of the old parishes that have been very successful. We provided the vaccine, but the members have to pay for the vaccine so that they have the money to provide the booster vaccines. It is way to all these people to become self-sufficient and not be reliant on muzungu’s (whites) to come every year to provide the vaccine. Hopefully, this will help alleviate the problems of sudden death in the goats.
Some interesting facts that I’ve learned over the past few weeks:
- children do not have the concept of stranger danger. We can pick up a random child on the side of the road and they will not only give us directions, they will take us to where we want to go. We have gotten directions from children as young as 4. Wow!
- One of the recent forms of praise we have received is when the members rub their hands together, someone asks if it is warm and they say no a few times, then they are asked if it is hot, then they say yes, clap multiple times and then push the heat from their hands to us. It is a very cool form of gratitude.
- Dingo is the name for chickpeas in the local language
- We were at a concern with popular musicians who have very bad messages to send to the pubic. They were encouraging unprotected sex and having affairs with many married men. Multiple artists had the same message which was very disturbing. Needless to say, we didn’t stay long.
We have a limited number of days left in Uganda and I am already planning when I can return. I would love to stay here full time if I could. The members are just so motivated when we are around and the project has advanced so much in the past 3 months that it will be so hard to leave them. For now, I will enjoy every minute of the upcoming day and look forward to our vacation in Kenya prior to our return home to Canada.
All the best,
Laura & Jessica
July 28, 2011 - 9:17 am
Sitting here reminiscing three days before we hop on the plane to North America, we both can attest to the fact that the summer has proved to be above and beyond our expectations. The following is the summary of our contributions:
Over our 3 month placement, we were responsible for teaching English classes to University teachers and students for 3 hours per week. We aimed to focus our lessons on conversational skills and pronunciation, as these areas were where students felt most uncomfortable. Once our initial jitters passed, we found that teaching was extremely satisfying; the students absorbed English like a sponge. As well, teaching offered a fantastic boost for our confidence and public speaking skills.
On the other end of the spectrum, two colleagues and now life-long friends (Ms. Outhevy VONGMANY and Mr. Nouansisavad SOMBOUNDSACK) taught us Lao language lessons every Monday and Tuesday. The focus was basic vocabulary and pronunciation, which helped us tremendously with communication on a daily basis. We quickly faced the difficulties of learning a new language, as we struggled with hearing and pronouncing the different tones and inflections. At least our struggling offered quite a lot of comic relief to those around us. As a result, we gained a greater appreciation of how challenging it must be for Lao people to learn English.
In addition to Lao language, we were also taught Lao culture lessons from Ms. Outhomphone SENVISET. The beginning of our lessons were filled with dance steps and contrary to our ambitions to master all the dances (like the Bousloup) at the end of the summer, we still managed to look like flailing hippos. Ms. Outhomphone’s students also spent time teaching us about other aspects of Lao culture and serenaded us with amazing music. We taught the students about North American culture in the process, which is quite a hard concept to define, since our diversity and cultural practices are extremely broad.
For one weekend in June, we volunteered at a Summer English Camp run by School Support Laos, a Norwegian NGO. Over 100 secondary school students from Savannakhet Province participated in the camp, which was divided into 20 stations with different assigned activities. We worked with the teachers to help develop the activities and run the stations for two days. As we were the only native English speaking people at the camp, we were able to offer a unique experience to the students by speaking in our native tongue. The weekend was great and we walked away with many new memories, pictures and friendships.
Another fantastic weekend was spent on a field trip to Champasack Province with over one hundred students from the Savannakhet University Agricultural Department. The purpose of the trip was for the students to gain a greater knowledge of the environment and integrated agriculture in regions outside of Savannakhet Province. We crammed many sites into the 3 day trip, including a visit to the Integrated Agriculture Centre of Champasack University, the Bolivian Plateau, coffee plantations, waterfalls, elephants and the Champasack Cultural Centre. The students were all ecstatic that we joined them and by the end of the weekend our hearts were happy and cheeks quite numb from constant smiling for their photoshoots.
We also accompanied our colleagues with field work twice a week within districts throughout Savannakhet province. Our responsibilities included vaccine administration for Foot and Mouth Disease and diagnosing/medicating sick cattle and pigs. We appreciated that the management practices in Laos are entirely different than those in North America and this provided us with an incredible opportunity to analyze the pros and cons between the two systems. Interacting with the farmers and their families was an experience in itself. It was nice to see how thoroughly the farmers enjoyed their work and their intense appreciation of the efforts Savannakhet University was making to help prevent large scale outbreaks of FMD. For these reasons (and the opportunity to take motorbike rides to remote areas outside of Savannakhet), field service gave us a remarkable appreciation of the beauty of the Laos land, its people and is something that we will forever cherish.
A large portion of our time at SKU was devoted to developing a 50 page veterinary terminology dictionary for the staff and students of the university. We took the knowledge of veterinary medicine from our Canadian education and used this to develop the structure of the dictionary. We focused on different aspects of veterinary medicine including anatomy, immunology, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, physiology and veterinary procedures. The long term plan to translate this dictionary into Lao is very exciting because we feel it consists of fundamental knowledge needed for a career in veterinary medicine. In addition, we helped develop various syllabi for new classes that SKU is adding to their veterinary health curriculum. Some of these courses included Artificial Breeding and Pregnancy, Epidemiological Surveillance, General Clinical Practice, Integrated Agriculture, Economic Insect Production, Veterinary Ethics and Law, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Service Management.
Before leaving Canada, numerous professors and students from the Atlantic Veterinary College in PEI donated over 50 veterinary books which we passed on to the University for use by both the teachers and students. We would like to thank all of the professors and students at Atlantic Veterinary College who made this possible. We genuinely hope that the books are useful for both curriculum development and a source of educational material for students and teachers.
We would like to express our deepest thanks to everyone at Savannakhet University who made this project possible. We had had an unforgettable three months here because of their continuous generosity and kindness. We would also like to thank Veterinarians Without Borders for facilitating this project. The experiences that we have had and the friendships that we have made will never be forgotten. Thanks to Laos, we will board the plane back to North America more humble, happy, passionate and grateful.
July 27, 2011 - 10:53 pm
Veterinarians without Borders
has launched its 4th Annual Rabies Campaign
to increase awareness about the global rabies issue. Although rabies is a preventable disease, it still kills 55,000+ people each year, most of whom are children living in poverty in Africa and Asia.
This September, you can Help Make Rabies History! by organizing a fundraising activity. Our month-long Rabies Campaign is a part of activities taking place around the world in support of World Rabies Day (September 28, 2011)
Fundraising for this campaign will not only support our international rabies prevention programs in Cambodia, Guatemala, India, Laos, Malawi, Northern Canada and Uganda, the top two teams that raises the most can win prizes! Aeroplan has again generously donated prize packages of Aeroplan miles!
Support this cause by either donating directly to VWB/VSF (please note RABIES in the comment box), or by partnering with others to organize an exciting fundraising activity. Check out some fundraising ideas on the VWB/VSF website.
July 17, 2011 - 7:43 pm
I guess I should start by giving a quick project update. Things have been going really well and we have successfully handed out 20 goats in the last week to hard working, deserving women. I can’t tell you what an inspiration these women have been to us. Most of them are caring for grandchildren, orphans and some of their own children, which can total into the double digits. They work relentlessly to provide them with food, shelter and school fees. Most of them, not all of them, know that the only way out of poverty is though education. Unfortunately, school fees, uniforms, books, pencils and pens add up and keeping children in school becomes difficult. I would say to any of you at home that are thinking about sponsoring a family from a developing country that providing school fees is the MOST important factor to ensuring them a better life.
Anyways, back to the goats….our interns: Eric Lawrence and Annelie Crook fundraised all year to provide money to buy goats for these women. It was a great feeling to give them a potential source of income and all of the women were incredibly grateful. Eric and Annelie- I ‘m sorry that you couldn’t be there to see the women but we made sure that we told them that you were the ones that donated the money for the goats and they gave you a standing round of applause:)
We have also picked 12 paravets to train- paravets will provide basic animal care to the women in their parish. We will spend the next week training them about proper husbandry, disease prevention, disease treatment, and basic skills like castration and hoof trimming. The women that we picked are examples to the rest of the beneficiaries because they all showed commitment towards the project and an enthusiasm to become more involved. The idea is to give these women an education in goat husbandry and provide them with medical supplies and medicines to start. They are to charge for their service- so it becomes a source of income for them and also allows them to replace the medicines once they are finished. Independence and sustainability are the major goals- as Laura puts it “working yourself out of a job.” I am sure most of you know that reliance and dependence on foreign aid is a huge problem in development work so that is something that we are trying to avoid by giving them the tools to start and hoping that they will work as a group to take it further. This has worked amazingly in some of the old parishes but has been disastrous in others. Some of the paravets are very successful and work well within the community, whereas others never get paid for their time and don’t refill the medicines. Some of the beneficiaries don’t understand that having goats are an investment and that some input is required to maintain health. Our only suggestion to prevent this from happening in other parishes is to provide the paravets with a fee guide that will allow them to make a small amount of income while ensuring that they are charging enough to be able to replace the medicines.
I am looking forward to spending a week training these women but I am not thrilled that we only have 2.5 weeks left! Can’t think about it:(
July 16, 2011 - 7:12 am
We have been in Kenya for a while now so there is a lot to report on.
Our first days in Kenya were spent in Nairobi, where we were treated with a really nice hotel. It was great to eat raw vegetables again, especially tomatoes. We visitied the Nairobi Vet School, and also got a tour of the International Livestock Research Institute, ILRI, and stayed at the hostel there. We met a tonne of very hospitable people with enormous knowledge of the challenges facing some of Kenya’s poor.
From Nairobi we drove to Ischimara where we visited the Wakulima Dairy Co-op (Wakulima is Swahili for farmer). We stayed at the Chairman’s house, who we only ever knew as ‘the Chairman.’ We visited some farms in the area where we treated sick cows and John educated the farmers about the importance of stall construction and cleanliness to prevent mastitis. We also began taking blood from calves, which will be tested for immunoglobulins to find out about the success of passive transfer.
Soon we moved on to the Mchaka orphanage and the St. Theresa Mission Hospital where we watched in action the meal programs designed to feed toddlers in the area. We also fed and spent a day with the orphaned babies of the region.
Nearby in Meru we witnessed firsthand the effects of the 3rd drought in a row. We visited Kinyinjeri school where the garden and a sorry food store is all that feeds the communitie’s children. The principle told us that it is difficult to convince some of the children to return home at the end of the day, as often times there is no food there. They live dangerously close to the edge of starvation, and with no harvest until January it is difficult to imagine the challenges they will face in the near future.
We then travelled for a day to Ex-Lewa, so named because the man who named his farm Lewa (a muzungo- white person) had to vacate his land at the request of the government and took the name of his farm with him, leaving Ex-Lewa in its place. Here we visited some more farms, treating animals and taking blood. The co-op has a new relationship with Farmers Helping Farmers and they are very appreciative of the help and advice being offered. We were welcomed so warmly and were treated so well it was amazing.
Kenyans have given us such a warm welcome into there homes. Almost everywhere we have been we are offered something as we leave. We even recieved a bag of freshly picked avacados! mmmm.
Presently, Val and I are travelling to farms with Dr. Kimindi, a local Kenyan vet. We are learning a lot about challenges facing dairy farmers in the area, and about the veterinary profession here. What a great experience.
July 10, 2011 - 9:28 pm
The weeks are just flying by. I can believe we have already been here for 2 months. There is just so much work to be done still and so little time to do it. I do really think that this project could benefit from having some here year round (hopefully that will be me one day).
This week, we managed to attend several group meetings for the numerous parishes to assess and discuss their problems and help them with sustainable solutions. One of the problems many of the groups are having is receiving fair market prices for their goats. Often times, the goats are being sold at times when school fees are due and buyers give a very low price, knowing that the women are in need of the money. Many of our beneficiaries are often receiving less than half of fair market price for an adult goat. We have encouraged women to sell their goats prior to when school fees are due. We have also provided 2 groups with scales so that these women can weigh their goats to prevent the buyers from lying about the weight of their goats. If these groups find the scales helpful, we will provide the other groups with scales. Hopefully this will be a stepping stone towards a fair market price.
This week we also went to many beneficiaries homes to ensure they met the necessary requirements prior to receiving goats during the planned goat ceremony later this week. We were so incredibly impressed. Some women built beautiful goat houses in less than 2 weeks. One lady built her pen in 1 day. They were all so eager to receive their first or second goat that they wanted to make sure they met all of the requirements. As a result, we were able to hand out 20 goats in 2 goat hand-out ceremonies. One of the ceremony was in very isolated area far from town called Kahenda. The women were so appreciate of our help and were really grateful that we had chosen to come to their parish all the way from Canada. During the ceremony, the local council, FAOC staff and us gave speaches and then we handed out the goats to each excited member. We were also provided with an amazing meal as a sign of appreciation. The FAOC members also performed a traditional song and dance for us which was very special.
There were also some other very memorable moments of this day.
- The chairperson Katrina received a buck during the pass on ceremony but because she was also trying to prepare lunch for us, she needed to rush home once the ceremony was finished. Instead of walking the buck home, she threw him over her shoulders as if he was weightless and walked home briskly (it was not a short walk).
- We provided rides home to some of the very old beneficiaries who had to walk far distances. Two of the ladies had never been in a vehicle and they had to be shown how to open and close the car door. That was very precious to see the confused and surprised looks on their faces when they were in the car and also to allow them to experience a car ride.
- One of the members receiving a goat on this day was the most excited and appreciative member thus far. This young lady is the daughter to one of our very elderly FAOC beneficiaries. This lady worked very hard to build a goat pen and we had helped her along by providing her with nails initially and a lock once the pen was complete. Every time we came to her place she provided us with tea and mondazis (baked goods) and sent us home with fruits. She was so happy for our visits. Furthermore, because I knew she had such a far distance to walk to come to the goat ceremony, I provided her with a pair of running shoes. The next day she came walking so proudly in her new shoes. After the ceremony, we drove her and her goat home. The whole car ride home she was so happy to be in a vehicle with us, to have received a goat and to have received new shoes. The FAOC staff said that they have never seen anyone so happy! When we reached her home, she gave us a sac full of avocados (well over 100). We tried and tried to get her to keep them, but she insisted. Now, all of the FAOC staff, family and friends have enough avocados to last them a long time!
It was just such a good feeling to brighten so many peoples’ day that much. This could not have happened without the generous support of those who donated to VWB/VSF, so I am so very grateful to all of you for your contributions! It has really made a significant impact on many families lives.
All the best,
Laura & Jessica
- 8:14 pm
**Desolee pour les accents, je nai pas encore trouvé de clavier qui me permettait d’écrire en francais**
Oups! Déjà plus d’un mois a Todos Santos et nous n’avons pas encore donne de nouvelles. Alors voila, il est bien temps de se reprendre! Pour notre défense nous avons bien utilisé notre temps, l’étude prévue initialement fut terminée en un temps record… deux semaines et demi! Le plus ardu fut de trouver et de contacter les leaders des différentes communautés. Les leaders sont essentiellement des hommes élus annuellement pour défendre les intérêts de leur communauté au niveau de la municipalité, et faciliter la communication. Il a fallu faire un peu de porte a porte car la liste de la municipalité est rarement mise a jour… Mais une fois dénichés, les leaders sont enthousiasmés par Vétérinaires Sans Frontières et appuient sans hésitation le déroulement de l’étude. Par contre, la plupart ne nous ont pas accompagnés. Il aurait été peut-être un peu plus facile de délimiter les communautés sils avaient été des nôtres, mais les interviews se sont bien déroulées quoi qu’il en soit. Benita notre traductrice Mam-espagnol fut dune aide précieuse. Elle est très appréciée par les habitants de Todos Santos et bien connue au sein de la population féminine puisqu’elle prend part à plusieurs projets dans la région. Il aurait été vraiment impossible de réaliser les interviews en espagnol. La majorité des enfants comprennent et parlent l’espagnol mais au moins la moitie des adultes ne comprennent que les rudiments et encore,… C’est plutôt triste puisque le Mam est un dialecte maya peu commun, il est parle presque strictement dans cette région. Voyager, migrer, échanger dans leur propre pays est un défi. Ce qui est loin d’être triste par contre, c’est le respect des traditions, l’amour de la culture et la fierté d’appartenir a une nation. Cela ce traduit dans chacun des portraits de la ville. Les vêtements, les animaux libres marchant dans la rue, les sourires, les bonjours, tout nous rappelle qu’ici les gens, les animaux sont tous étroitement lies. Et on n’est pas mises de cotes, ne vous inquiétez pas! Les todosanteriens paraissent peut-être un peu méfiants au départ mais une fois introduit par quelqu’un qu’ils connaissent, vous êtes plus que le bienvenu à poser des questions et a apprendre. Beaucoup dhistoires de violence et de corruption circulent sur la région. Certaines ont peut-etre un peu de vrai, mais jamais on pourrait deviner. Je nai jamais vu de personne voler les petits kiosques abandonnes par les proprietaires a lheure du repas; si tu oublies quelques choses sur le comptoir, on court jusque dans la rue pour te le remettre. Vraiment rien ne laisse croire que les gens manquent de quoi que ce soit. Cela est malheureusement tres faux, la pauvrete est omnipresente ici. Le salaire moyen dun homme est de 50Q par jour (ce qui équivaut a environ 6-7$ canadiens) et la femme, si elle na pas la chance davoir une formation scolaire specifique ne peut compter que sur la vente de tissages et daliments. La contraception mal utilisee et la violence conjugale assujettissent plusieurs femmes a la pauvrete ou a la soumission. Cependant, il faut mentionne que lon est jamais laisse completement a nous-meme a Todos Santos, la famille est toujours proche. Sans compter le vent de solidarite qui souffle au sein de la population feminine. Nous avons rencontre hier une jeune femme de 25ans, Marcela et sa petite fille Melissa qui vient tout juste davoir un an. Elles habitent avec grand-maman et arriere-grand-maman et vivent toutes les 4 de tous ce quelles peuvent trouver depuis que le père de Marcela est decede. Elle ma confectionne un « guapil » (chandail en tissage qui fait parti de lhabillement traditionnel), cela represente environ 3 semaines de travail. Bref, les familles se serrent les coudes et quand la famille ne peut pas aider, les voisins sen mêlent. Kelly, une de nos amies de Peace Corp vit depuis deux ans maintenant avec deux des plus puissantes femmes de Todos Santos. Cest une des seules maisons qui a un divan. Régulièrement des femmes viennent y passer la nuit pour s’épargner les coups d’un conjoint mecontent. Lalcool naide pas les familles todosanteriennes bien entendu. Il y a 2 mois, la consommation de produits alcoolises est redevenue legale a Todos Santos. Des hommes daffaires ont reussis a outreppasser les reglements et la loi est tombee peu apres. Les todosanteriens supportent plutôt mal lacool mais la situation ne semble pas etre desastreuse pour le moment.
Pour ce qui est de leducation, tout nous laisse paraitre quelle est de plus en plus valorisee. Les enfants debutent lecole a lage de 4 ans, ils apprennent lespagnol et les rudiments de langlais. Lorsquon le leur demande plusieurs enfants veulent devenir professeurs (ce qui implique de continuer a etudier).
Voila mon petit protrait de Todos Santos! Comme vous voyez cest different de ce que lon peut rencontrer au Canada… La realisation de notre projet fut plus compliquee que prevue jais bien limpression. Celui-ci consistait principalement a obtenir un portrait global de la sante animal dans une dizaine de communautes a Todos Santos afin de permettre aux decidants du projet de Veterinaires sans frontieres devaluer les resultats des actions entreprises. Arrive a Antigua, Kelleigh, Roberto (le veterinaire canadien qui nous a accompagne pour la premiere semaine) et moi-meme avions quelques craintes quand a la reponse de la population a un questionnaire de 8 pages. Heureusement, la population a été dune grande patience, la majorite a tente de repondre aux questions le mieux possible, allant chercher les documents pouvant completer les informations… Mais javoue que meme aujourdhui, jeprouve quelques craintes par rapport a la precision des resultats observes. Bien sur, Kelleigh et moi avons rediger un document a lintention de la personne qui a cree le questionnaire et qui interpretera les resultats afin quelle prenne garde aux nuances qui ont été particulierement difficiles a expliquer, meme a notre traductrice (une femme eduquee et lettree). On se rend vite compte que lecole et notre vie de tous les jours nous a preparer a repondre a des questions. Ce nest pas le cas avec les adultes dici qui ne savent pas lire. De plus avouer que leur chien nest pas toujours sur leur propriete, quil est possible que leur chien se nourrisse dans la rue… cest difficile. Mais bon, les questionnaires ont été remplis avec rigueur et enthousiasme. On a vraiment formee une bonne equipe. Comme je lai dit plus tot, nous avons reussi a rencontrer toutes les familles en deux semaines et demi. Et puis nous avons debute lentree des donnees des que nous avons recu le document excel pour le faire, soit vers la mi-juin. Cette etape a demande quand meme pas mal de discipline! lol Nous avons emportee chacun une pile de questionnaires que nous avons emportes avec nous au Lac. Eh oui! Nous avons pris 3 jours de vacances pour visiter la region de Atitlan accompagnees de notre ami Jordan (un americain engage comme coordonateur de lecole hispano-maya pour les prochains mois). Cetait vraiment merveilleux! Lentree de donnees est beaucoup plus agreable autour dun lac apres une baignade!
Une fois cette premiere entree faite, nous avons fait une seconde verification pour verifier quaucun renseignements ne manquait. Nous avons ensuite assemble les quelques 30 questionnaires qui meritaient des precisions afin de retourner dans les foyers. Shawn (andres, un eternel allie de veterinaires sans frontiere) nous a bien aide a obtenir linformation manquante.
La semaine de notre retour de vacance fut en fait principalement dediee au decompte des chiens errants. En effet, nous avons passe une anonce a la radio afin que les gens nous contactent sils ne possedaient pas de collier pour leur chien puisque nous allions marquer a la peinture rouge les chiens qui nen portaient pas. Plusieurs familles nous ont contactees mais, soit ils faisaient partis de dautres communautes, soit ils desiraient sinscrire pour la future clinique de Veterinaires sans frontiere. On a donc pris le lundi pour marcher dans toutes les communautes et sassurer que tous les chiens sans colliers seraient identifies par un materiel (on a acheter du fil dun super beau magenta!). Les quatre matins suivant, nous avons cherche les chiens errants dans toutes les rues des 11 communautes visees par le projet. Nous aurions tellement aime avoir un podometre! Ce fut vraiment une belle semaine. La temperature était agreable, lactivite était plutôt amusante bien que repetitive. Le jeudi, nous avons pu assiste a notre seconde soiree dansante a Todos Santos. Nous avons donc pratiqué nos pas de maramba. Cest drole de voir tous les hommes appuyer sur les murs a regarder les danseurs. Il y a des choses qui ne changent pas!
Et puis cette meme semaine, on nous a propose dapprocher de nouvelles communautes pour voir si elles seraient interessee a recevoir des services de sterilisation et de vaccination. Ce qui nous a permis daccelerer le processus est la decouverte des rencontres hebdomadaires des leaders des communautes. Ils se rencontrent presque chaque semaine a la municipalite dans le local voisin a celui de notre amie Kelly. Nous avons donc pu nous presenter et parler de Veterinaires Sans Frontieres au groupe de leaders. Deux autres communautes nous ont approchees dans lespoir dobtenir de laide. Nous avons pris leurs renseignements bien que les communautes soient situees a plusieurs heures dautobus du centre de la ville.
Mardi nous avons termine linterrogation des nouvelles communautes. Nous sommes maintenant a Xela, ou nous allons travailler dans une clinique veterinaire a partir de lundi.
Avant de quitter nous nous sommes assurees de discuter avec les promoteurs de sante (des personnes qui ont lequivalent dune technique en pharmacie) et des sages-femmes. Ces deux groupes de personnes sont bien connus et apprecies. Ils sont souvent appeles a donner des conseils lorsque les animaux sont malades et ont déjà developpe une certaine dexterite avec le materiel de soin. Nous croyons quils pourraient donc nous aider a faire du projet de Todos Santos quelques choses plus permanent, viable et autosuffisant. Déjà 3 personnes, 1 infirmier, 1 sage-femme et 1 promorteure de sante ont demontre un interet marque et nous ont donne leur coordonnes sans hesiter. Nous prendrons le reste des noms des interesses lorsque nous retourneront a Todos Santos dans 2 semaines pour aller chercher les boites de questionnaires.
J’espère que vous avez retenu de mon petit roman toute la fascination et le plaisir des dernières semaines. Il m’est toutefois impossible d’omettre les difficultés rencontrees puisqu’elles fondent les plus importants apprentissages. Kelleigh et moi avons normalement toutes les deux de la facilite a travailler en equipe. Nous savions que communiquer a distance est parfois difficile. Nous avons tout de même été surprises de combien cela peut l’être. Obtenir réponse a nos questions lorsque nous en avons besoin, s’assurer de notre bonne interprétation des attentes de nos coordonatrices et comprendre les raisons qui justifient ces attentes, maintenir le lien de confiance qui nous lient aux autres membres du projet, transmettre nos opinions de la façon la plus juste et sentir quelles sont ensuite écoutées, puis enfin toujours garder en tête que chacun fait sont possible. Voila ce qui a été le réel défi de cette aventure jusque la, la communication. On verra pour la suite!
July 7, 2011 - 9:47 am
Baby chicks in Ilima recently received their vaccines for Newcastle on the increased vaccination schedule. This new timetable means that between the regular flock vaccinations every three months, recently hatched chicks will receive their dosage earlier. As the mortality among chicks is still very high, it is hoped this will help swing the favour back toward the birds. The vaccine protocols need some minor tweaking here and there but it’s on our to-do list. It took two days to complete the vaccinations but we were happy to lend a hand!
So many chicks, only so many hands!
Some chicks didn’t appreciate the vaccination so off to hide from the evil vaccinators!
Hiding under Mom!
While currently working on translating the training manual in use by the teacher farmers, we have made some good advances in updating material to include that will cover nutrition, housing and general information on raising chickens. More training in nutrition has been a common request from the farmers during our interviews and is something we feel we can accommodate. Millet grows wild in the region, termites populate the dying vegetation and even banana peels can contribute to the health of chickens without taking from the maize, which is used to feed the families.
With sustainability in mind, a micro-credit system of chickens as the commodity is being planned. An initial injection of new birds into the program will be the starting point for a continuing pay-forward of birds to other farmers, as well as a potential payback into a fund that will assist in purchasing supplies, pre-mixed feed, etc.
We continue to receive positive feedback from the village elders and the farmers with whom we interact, as well as some wonderful ideas on how they’d like to see the project progress. As we intend to move forward with the final goal of having the villagers themselves take full ownership of this project, having active input and interest displayed by both teachers and students is a wonderful sign. The people here are very creative, intelligent and not only willing to learn but teach us much about caring for chickens in a village environment.
July 1, 2011 - 11:32 am
Happy Canada day, friends!
Today is a holiday in Ghana too- Republic Day to be precise. Workers get the day off, although most stores seem to be open which is convenient for those of us who would like to pop by the market for various celebratory snacks. Without access to maple syrup or a barbecue, we have decided against attempting a traditional celebration and instead will be preparing our favourite dish- plantain chips with guacamole -as our special meal tonight.
Yesterday, Dor and I arranged a visit to the local halal slaughterhouse, with the soon-to-be-acting Regional Veterinary Officer Dr.Paul Pulkuun (taking over from Dr.Philip Salia). We also took along vet tech Stephen (pictured performing the rabies diagnostics in our last photo dump) and met up with Elizabeth, one of the veterinary extension officers, at the facility (the extension officers rotate on inspection duty at the slaughterhouse). These officers have the duty of inspecting the animals both ante and post mortem, and have the power to partially or completely condemn an animal.
When we arrived, we were greeted by the surprisingly enticing smells of food, as multiple little stalls were set up around the slaughterhouse grounds. I guess the rationale is that you’re guaranteed to be getting a fresh piece of meat there! We toured the loading area, which is outfitted with a ramp for both loading and unloading cattle from trucks. Cattle are less expensive in this region of the country, and so many are shipped down south (where prices could even be double what is paid here). The holding pens were not crowded, and actually were fairly clean; we were also informed that as cattle are officially required to be rested/fed/watered after arrival, and that sometimes they would be let out into pasture behind the pens. Buyers (mostly butchers) will select cattle from the holding pens, and bargain for a good price (a large Zebu bull might fetch over 1000 Ghana Cedi [~$750CAD], while smaller animals may sell for 400 or more). Individual cattle were tethered at various points along the grounds as well, as people can bring in their own cattle to be slaughtered. Once an animal is selected for slaughter, it will be inspected by a vet officer who must deem it suitable for slaughter. While we watched, many animals were walked through into the slaughterhouse and it was quite remarkable how docile the animals were.
As we were warned in advance that sometimes there was a shortage of water at the slaughterhouse (as is the case in all of Wa), Dor and I were prepared to wade through blood and entrails if necessary, and were also equipped with a dab of Tiger Balm under our sensitive Canadian noses. However, we were genuinely surprised by the conditions within the slaugherhouse- the facility was very airy, with lots of natural light and windows, yet surprisingly devoid of swarming flies. There was very little blood or debris on the floor, as cattle were slaughtered and processed on concrete blocks with wells for drainage- and the odor was scarcely detectable.
Each animal would be led in, then its legs would be tied and the head restrained as the butcher slit the jugular as per halal specifications. Northern Ghana has a large Muslim population, and Wa itself is ~60% Muslim- so all vendors sell halal meat. Stunning is not in practice here, but the bleeding was done quickly and I never once heard an animal bawling or saw one struggle because the handling was so adept. Then a crew of perhaps 3 or 4 men would very rapidly skin and butcher each animal- again, very impressive display of strength and skill. At any given time, perhaps 8 cattle might be within the facility, but each was processed very quickly and efficiently. On the opposite side of the slaughterhouse were stone slabs where pieces were carved up as per individuals’ specifications, and we watched as large hunks of meat and various organs were tossed casually onto the floor of a butcher’s van.
Overall, it was a surprisingly positive experience. In a country where animal welfare is an afterthought at best, the cattle were skillfully and quietly handled, and the facility was again remarkably fresh and clean (although perhaps the introduction of stunning before slaughter, as well as use of refrigerated vans for transporting meat would be beneficial)
Thanks for keeping up with us, and enjoy the fireworks!