From Uganda…

One of the highlights of our trip has been getting to know the team of technicians who work with SNV on the artificial insemination program.  The above picture was taken after a meeting that was held where we had the pleasure to meet the whole team.  These technicians were selected to be part of the program because of their strong work ethic and desire to improve their own business. 

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We join the technicians during their service calls to the farm where we observe various practices that they perform for the farmers including, artificial insemination, synchronization, and pregnancy diagnosis.  In the above picture a technician, Mutemba Lawrence (seen in the photo below) assisted us with a pregnancy diagnosis on farm.

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tree meetingHere we are having tea with farm owner Kekuruso Elly (seen in the yellow hat) after servicing his cattle with Mutemba Lawrence who is seen behind the tree.   Our coworker Olivia Tumukunde joined us on this farm call and is seen in the center of the photo. It is tradition to take tea or share food together with visitors as a sign of appreciation.  We always enjoy these gatherings because it gives us a chance to get to know the people we are working with.

  

Muriega!

 

Our team supervisor Dr. Shauna Richards has arrived! Shauna is a veterinarian from Nova Scotia who just finished her PhD at UPEI. Her PhD is based on data collected on rearing dairy cows in central Kenya, so we are excited to utilize her research findings and learn from her many experiences here in Kenya. With her guidance, we have started the teaching phase of our project for the summer: educating farmers about calf care. Each day, a different community member hosts us on their farm to teach a seminar. They each invite 10-15 neighbouring farmers to attend and learn. Our seminars focus on calf nutrition, housing, management and disease prevention practices as well as mastitis prevention and body condition scoring for cows. After the seminar, we offer to visit the attendees’ farms and provide specific advice on how to best improve their farms for both their calves and cows. At some farms, we are able to assist with minor reconstruction of housing. Each farm poses a unique set of challenges for us to assess and for the farmer to overcome.

Margaret Njoki is one of the members of the Mukurwe-ini Wakulima Dairy Ltd. She is 32 years old and a mother of two. Since Margaret has been very diligent in utilizing the advice she received from last year’s VWB team to make substantial improvements to her barn and stall for her one cow, Njata, we wanted to highlight her farm and the effort she has put into it. Margaret started farming two years ago to help provide income for her family. She is the main caretaker for Njata and was recently been able to purchase a bull. Margaret’s farm was not immune to this year’s drought, but she has seen an increase in milk production and a decrease in mastitis in her cow as a result of last year’s training. Over the past year, Margaret has seen an improvement in her cow’s health and she feels much more confident in feeding and deworming Njata properly. When we asked Margaret for the best advice she could give to youth interested in dairy farming, she suggested planning ahead, budgeting, and investing in the cow now so it will pay off later. We were delighted to hear Margaret’s suggestions, as they support many of the key concepts we are teaching in our seminars.

Aside from our veterinary work, our time here has allowed us to learn about other aspects of life in Kenya. Another Canadian organization working in Kenya, Farmers Helping Farmers, is affiliated with Days For Girls, an Ontario-based non-profit that provides reusable feminine hygiene products to girls in developing nations. We were able to attend a school visit with Farmers Helping Farmers volunteers to promote the value of women and dispel myths surrounding menstruation and hygiene.We distributed kits containing reusable pads and taught the girls how to use and care for them properly. These reusable kits will prevent girls from having to miss school and other opportunities while having their periods. Feminine hygiene products are often not readily available, especially in rural areas, so we are hopeful that these kits will be useful for the girls.

Shortly before Shauna arrived, we were able to go on a safari in Amboseli National Park. This park is located in southeastern Kenya, near its border with Tanzania. It is known for its spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro and its elephant population of around 1000. We enjoyed seeing a wide array of Kenyan wildlife, as well as the different landscapes across the country. During our trip, we were also able to visit a Maasai village and learn about their way of life as well as their cattle rearing practices which differ greatly from those in the Mukurwe-ini area, where we have been learning and working.

Although we have much more to say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Check out the photos below!

This project is supported by VWB-Canada with Global Affairs Canada funding.

#KenyaBelieveIt #HakunaMatata #VWB #CowsForLife #VetsInTheMaking

photo1 - Copy (2)Visiting the dairy with our supervisor Dr. Shauna Richards (photo centre right).

photo2 - Copy (2)Our happy but hot team after our successful first day of teaching the calf seminar on our own!

photo3 small- CopyAlina working with our translator, Priscilla, to teach a small group of farmers the importance of navel care for calves.

photo4 - CopyKelly helping Shauna as she explains teaming up to Theresa Wairimu, one of our new farmers, in preparation for calving. Steaming up is when increased amounts of concentrate and forage are fed in the weeks leading up to calving in order to increase peak milk production. On weekends, when the neighbourhood kids are not in school, they love the excitement of new visitors!

photo5Margaret Njoki (left) is talking with Megan and Alina about why she started dairy farming.

photo6 Margaret started farming so that she could contribute more to the family income and provide more for her two young children.

photo7Megan helping to distribute the colorful Days for Girls kits to some of the eager students at Karaguririo Primary School.

photo8 Girls in grades 6, 7, and 8 at Karaguririo Primary School were happy to show off their new kits!

photo9Cattle are very important to the Maasai people. In their culture, the Maasai zebu breed is a symbol of wealth as well as a vital source of many products used for everything from consumption to housing.

Working and exploring in Ghana

By Olivia Bos and Natalie Chow

Time is flying by and we cannot believe that we only have one more month left in the beautiful country of Ghana. The past few weeks have been busy ones, as we have continued to speak in schools and to Family Based Farming Cooperative groups in the East Gonja District on the importance of good animal care and housing. We have spoken to approximately 1200 people in this district so far –Incredible!! Next week we will travel out of the East Gonja District to four of the surrounding districts to talk to their farmer groups about animal housing. We are looking forward to meeting with new people and seeing more of Ghana.

 

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Olivia holding a puppy she found at a restaurant (because everyone loves baby animals!)

As Canada was celebrating its 150th birthday on July 1st, Ghana was celebrating Ghana Republic day. We decided to take advantage of the long weekend to do some animal related exploring. We spent the weekend at Mole National Park and did some safari tours. The views and scenery were spectacular, and being able to see the animals in their natural habitat was breathtaking. It’s not everyday that you wake up, roll out of bed, and see a family of elephants before breakfast. Or get chased by monkeys on the way back to your hotel room… In addition to elephants and monkeys, we were also able to see a few different species of antelope, warthogs, baboons, a mongoose, a giant stork, crocodiles, rabbits, civet cats and many species of birds and reptiles. On our journey home from Mole National Park we stopped in the small town of Larabanga to visit their famous mud and stick mosque. It was built in 1421 A.D. and is one of the oldest mosques in Africa. We hope you enjoy these snapshots from our adventures!”

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Olivia and Natalie talking to a very enthusiastic Family Based Farming Cooperative Group in Yakubupe about animal housing. Pastor John was the community volunteer translator seen standing beside us in the centre.

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Photo taken after our session in the Yakubupe community

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Olivia and Natalie teaching and interacting with the children in the local schools of the East Gonja District.

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Olivia, Natalie and Patience Ayamba, our awesome in-country supervisor with SEND, standing behind an African crocodile while on our weekend away. A little too close for comfort!

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Our guide called this species of antelope a “cob”, they’re everywhere in Mole National Park.

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We were fortunate enough to be able to watch some elephants eating their breakfast one morning. They are such amazing creatures!

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Pretty happy and excited arriving back safe and sound from our last safari tour. A lady from Colorado joined us as well as our guide, Abdallah.

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A small river running close by to Mole National Park. Our guides took us on a tour down river to try to spot birds, monkeys, and reptiles.

That’s all for now!

Olivia and Natalie

 

 

Not all Superheroes wear capes…some wear Kitenges

If you are looking for women with super powers, look no further. This blog from Team Tanzania is packed full of Tanzanian women who balance being super moms as well as super farmers!

We will begin with Elisa Kanga, a Super Woman like no other. She is the Village Executive Officer of Lwajilo village, a rarity in rural Tanzania,who commands respect from the rest of village council. She was very welcoming and left us feeling at home during our first ever village visit. It is clear that one of Elisa’s super powers is her ability to keep this village moving towards a sustainable future. The village has a variety of vaccination programs including poultry, cattle and even canine, as well as a women’s group which Elisa is involved in. The focus of this group being to support women on livestock husbandry.

image001smallSeen here is Elisa Kanga carrying her youngest child in a traditional Tanzanian wrap. Standing next to her in support is her husband Steven Kanga, the Village Chairman of Lwanjilo

Next up meet Severena Chai, the wonder window. Superpower includes: raising 3 young children on her own, caring for 2 dairy cows and a calf, and carrying a sack of potato on her head without breaking a sweat. We met this busy woman through IADO’s round potato planting program in the village of IlemboUsafwa whereshe was very keen on seeking advice to increase her cow’s milk production and welfare.

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Severena Chai, claims her sack of potato and carries it on her head like the wonder woman that she is. This is no easy feat, Cheyenne and Angie tried doing it and couldn’t even get the bag off the ground.

Meet Laheli, the real MVP of round potato farming. So much so that she was invited to teach about ecological farming practices in far away villages. She is what most Agricultural NGOs would classify as a Super Farmer. Cheerful and assertive, she didn’t let any of the men in the program push her around.

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Here Laheli is proudly displaying her plot of land that she’s prepared for sowing her next round of potato seedlings.

A super hero in the making, Monika Bandari was a very active participant in our poultry management training. She did not hesitate to ask questions and even volunteered to be Ikhoho village’s focal person. As focal person she will be receiving extra training and ensure the sustainability of the poultry vaccine program by making sure her village gets the vaccine even after our work there is done.She currently has 10 chickens but cannot wait to apply what she has learned from the training and grow her flock.

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Monika seen here shortly after she’s chosen by her fellow villagers as focal person.

We don’t want you thinking that we are biased towards picking Super farmers. We know that there are also super women found in the markets of Mbeya. We are lucky enough to meet Mama Sofi, whose super powers include helping lost Canadians navigate the busy Kobwemarket. It also helped that she spoke excellent English and had a great sense of fashion, how else could we have found these beautiful kitenges?

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Left to Right: Angie, Mama Sofi and Cheyenne posing after Kitenge 101 training. Kitenges are traditional, informal Tanzanian clothing worn by women. They can do everything in them from cooking and cleaning to going out shopping.
We’ve met so many fantastic women and we know there’s plenty more to come. Take a look at these Super heroes in training where almost the entire front row is full of eager young ladies.

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Students from Swaya secondary school posing with Angie and Cheyenne after successful completion of poultry program, the goal of which is to enable youth empowerment for self employment.

Brace yourselves, the future is female.

A warm welcome to Uganda

One of the great joys of an international placement is the opportunity to experience another culture. The VWB/VSF volunteer team recently experienced a warm introduction to the culture of western Uganda  (editor).

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As we continue our placement, we visited Annah Kabateraine’s mixed farm. In the above photo she is seen in the red along with our team and many others who work for her including her son Emanuel and nephew John seen on the right in the photo. She received a bronze medal for national agricultural micro finance management for highest yield in mixed farming. Annah also promotes agro tourism on her farm.

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Dipping is one of the practices that Annah uses on her farm to prevent the common problem of tick born disease. The cattle impressively swim through an 18 foot deep trough filled with water that is mixed with pesticide.

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Whilst on the farm we ran into mechanical trouble with the community tractor that Annah shares with 6 other farms and was financed by the government. Shortly after it broke down we had many people from nearby villages come to help fix the problem. We are learning first-hand about Uganda’s strong sense of community.

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Annah’s son, Evan Toras, took us to a traditional Ankore wedding and helped us rent the proper attire so we would fit right in. The people commented that “we looked smart” which is a common saying/compliment in Uganda.

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In Ankore culture milk is kept in the pots seen above; they are smoked after each use to clean the pot and flavor the milk. Yogort and “ghee” which is a fermented butter are also made in the pots. Momma Annah gave us our own pot to use whenever we visit her as a token that we are now like her daughters.

Greetings from Mukurwe-ini!

Over the past 2 weeks, the Kenya team has been working with the veterinarians and extension officers from the Mukurwe-ini Wakulima Dairy Ltd. The dairy is the Kenyan partner of Veterinarians Without Borders and Farmers Helping Farmers, and plays a vital role in the economy of the ever-growing Mukurwe-ini. Currently, over 6000 farmers sell their milk to the dairy, and it provides rewarding employment to many Kenyan women living in rural areas.
The dairy has a strong support system for its farmers, including laboratory tests, extension officers, and veterinary services. The lab provides routine testing of milk, similar to what is done in Canada, to ensure quality of milk products.

The dairy’s extension team educates farmers on components of animal health and welfare including nutrition, housing, and management practices. They advise farmers on small adjustments they can make to cattle housing to optimize comfort, feeding to keep cows a healthy weight, and milking practices to maximize production. Currently, the extension officers are focusing on educating farmers on the benefits of silage production to help feed their cattle consistently over Kenya’s two dry seasons when fresh food is harder to come by. The extension team supplies a chaff cutter to farms on a rental basis, as well as labour for the day, to help farmers make silage.

When working with the veterinary services team, we responded to calls from the community and treated animals as needed, under the supervision of Dr. Patrick Githae Gatheru. These treatments include preventative measures such as deworming, as well as treatments of illnesses with the use of antibiotics, vitamin and mineral supplements, and a little TLC. We were also able to observe some artificial insemination of cattle, a common practice in Kenya.
Next week, we will begin our project focusing on calf care. Our goal is to educate farmers about how to best feed, house, and care for their calves. We want to emphasize that calves given a good start to life will grow into higher producing cows, increasing income for the farmers.

Be sure to check out our favourite photos below from the past 2 weeks!
Thii nawega!
(Goodbye in Kikuyu)

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This is the milk receiving dock at Wakulima Dairy. Most farms do not produce much milk with only a few cows per herd, so the dairy uses 20L milk cans to collect from each community. 

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This is our team (Alina left, Kelly center and Megan right) on one of our first days out with Dr. Githae Gatheru, one of the vets from the Wakulima veterinary services team. Although it is taking some time to adjust to the heat, we have been enjoying every minute of our experience here.

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This week, we went with the extension team from the dairy to help with small scale Napier Grass silage making. First, the Napier Grass is cut using a gas powered chaff cutter, then molasses is added to aid with fermentation, then the chopped silage is packedtightly into plastic bags, each weighing 200-250 kg.

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Megan and Kelly following Dr. Githae Gatheru to a farm where we watched an artificial insemination. Many of the farms we visit are only accessible by foot, and are surrounded by the many beautiful landscapes of Kenya. 

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Kelly and Megan measuring out a common preventative deworming medication in order to maintain health for this cow and her unborn calf.

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Individual calf pens on one of the farms we visited. This raisedhousing system helps to improve calf welfare by preventing calf to calf contact, and reducing the potential for infection by parasite or bacteria from the ground. 

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Happy Cows = Happy Megan!

Finding inspiration in northern Ghana

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Volunteers Natalie Chow (left) and Olivia Bos (Right) with Martha Kumah.

We are pleased to introduce Martha Kumah! Martha attended our three-day animal production Training of trainers (TOT) workshop from June 1st to 3rd 2017 in the Kpandi district of the Northern region of Ghana. She is married with five (5) children and stays in “Kabonwule” a community in the Kpandai district. Her enthusiasm during the training sessions stood out, she was constantly putting up her hand to participate and asked questions despite looking after her small daughter Grace.

Martha even led the participants in a rousing energizer after lunch. We admired how she was able to show up early, participate effectively and look after her child all at the same time. There was something special and inspiring about her. After some casual conversation and giving her a brief knitting tutorial (which she was fascinated by and got the hang of very quickly), we learned more about Martha’s story.

Martha has been raising animals for over 15 years and now has a herd of 25 goats and about 20 chickens. Like many others in this district, she uses her animals for meat, eggs and as gifts for special occasions.When the family needs quick cash, her animals fetch a good price at the market, with a female goat selling for about GH?300.00 ($100 CD).
Over the three days, Martha learned about the benefits of providing animal housing and hopes to soon build housing for her animals. She will also be vigilant in providing fresh, clean drinking water for the goats and chickens. Martha is a great example for her community of a woman who is able to raise animals and run a household.

She is now excited to put what she has learned into practice in hopes of improving her animal production. Martha is thrilled with the training and plans to go to her community and actively share her knowledge on animal production with them!

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Natalie and Olivia with Samuel Agongo.

Samuel Agongo is one of the few individuals in the Kpandai district who considers animal production a business. We got to know Samuel through our SEND GHANA supervisor who mentioned that Samuel owned a farm and she praised it for how well kept it was. We were instantly curious since not many people in this area raise animals in any manner other than free-range/extensive system.

We went to visit his farm and began to learn more about his background. Samuel said he started his semi-intensive poultry and pig farm in Kpandai in 2014. Over the past few years it has grown and flourished into a profitable business. He currently has 1000 laying hens, and was expecting another 3000 shortly, in addition to having about 30 pigs and a small herd of sheep. According to Samuel, he became interested in animal production after watching his father raise animals and 1000 guinea fowl while he was in high school. He had a background in agriculture coupled with a degree in crop science before starting his animal production.

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Samuel has built an excellent poutry barn.

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Happy, healthy pigs.

He grows yam, cassava, soya beans and maize crops on 11 acres of land in order to feed his animals. Samuel provides an excellent example of the benefits of appropriate housing, good animal husbandry, herd vaccination and using manure as a natural fertilizer for crops. He is a strong believer in the importance of vaccines and believes that more farmers should make this investment for their herds. Samuel faced many challenges when starting out, some of which included high capital investment in buying land, fencing the land, getting electricity to the farm, and constructing the housing. He says that it took about three years before he finally started to make profit. His farm is currently doing very well and he is seeing the fruits of his investments in animal production. Samuel Agongo is a pioneer of good animal production in his area, and we hope that he can inspire others to start investing more in this business.

Below:  Cropland with the poultry barn in the background.

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Tanzania young volunteers — one month in

Hello everyone, this is Angie, Cheyenne and Dr. Roger of Team Tanzania. We can’t believe it’s been a month since we left home to start our African journey. After a training session in Ottawa we landed in Tanzania and dived head first into international development in this beautiful country. We hope you can appreciate the diversity of the work we’ve been involved in for the past month. We’ve been a part of round potato planting to prevent soil erosion, taught secondary students about the opportunities involved in poultry keeping, and started a pilot poultry vaccination program.

These are our first month’s highlights, Enjoy!

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Figure 1: Mr. Ntajile of IADO showing farmers from ILEMBO USAFWA the importance of reducing chemical fertilizer by using more portion of organic fertilizer for round potato farming.

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Figure 2: Cheyenne and Angie distributing New Castle Oral Vaccine to chicken farmers of Idimi village. Clean soda bottles and 20L pails are essential when working in remote villages to distribute oral vaccines.

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Figure 3: Cheyenne standing with Riziki Samwel (grey dress shirt) and one of the local farmers in Lwanjilo village after successful vaccination.

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Figure 4: Prior to mass vaccination, every village receives training on basic poultry management and the importance of regular vaccination. Seen here is Dr. Roger (red VWB shirt), and two IADO staff Lusakelo (green striped shirt) and Ntajile (tan shirt) lecturing in Hapaloto village.

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Figure 5: Angie inspecting a kid (baby goat) for external parasites. After we finish distributing ND (new castle disease) vaccine in Hapaloto village, we had some downtime. This is one of the best ways to pass time as a vet student in Tanzania.

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Figure 6: Building a relationship and meeting with the village council is essential building block of sustainable international development. They say it takes a village to raise a child, can you imagine how many people it must take to run a village? (Seen here IADO team with Dr. Roger Thomson and village executive council of Ilowelo. From left to right, Steven Mengu (hamlet chairman), Yona Samwel (village executive officer, wearing blue suit)

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Figure 7: On our first weekend off since arriving in Tanzania we decided to take a breather from the buzzing city of Mbeya and enjoy a 2 hour hike through the rainforest to crater Lake Ngozi. Seen here are Cheyenne and Angie enjoying the view of the lake while snacking on fresh fruits.

Living in Tanzania has been quite the adventure so far! We have met some wonderful people, dedicated farmers and seen amazing views of protected environments. We can’t wait to see what happens next!

Meet the Uganda volunteer team

“Agandi” – Hello how are you? Greetings all the way from Mbarara Uganda!

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We would like to introduce you to the Veterinarians without Borders Uganda team. From left to right Cassia Michel, Nicole Sheedy, Michelle Mak, and Hollyn Maloney. In the middle is Dr. Ludwig Siefert, one of the veterinarians who oversees the health of wildlife within the Queen Elizabeth National Park and leads the team of the Uganda Carnivore Project. (www.uganda-carnivores.org) Cassia and Michelle are working together on VWB/VSF’s goat pass on and school milk projects. Nicole and Hollyn will be working on a new project in partnership with SNV a Netherlands based organization. The project is called TIDE (The inclusive dairy enterprise).

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Edison Ntwazza is a trained technician performing artificial insemination (AI) on a local farm. Edison is one of the technicians working with SNV to improve the success of AI in the district of Mbarara. He has been operating his own AI business in the district for many years and is one of thirteen technicians to join the TIDE project in 2016. We have been travelling with Edison to local farms in the community to observe the challenges and successes that the people of Uganda experience when developing their dairy farms.

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This is Sister Antonia Tibareka, one of four sisters who run a successful dairy farm in Rubindi, Uganda. She has a herd of 30 Holstein cattle and has been using the AI services for 8 months with good success rates. One of the challenges she faces is providing sufficient water for her animals during the dry season. This year Uganda has experienced a drought which has made access to water during the dry season a serious issue. Sister Antonia solved the problem by building dugouts, including the one below. She sold 7 cows to pay for the construction. Each cow is worth approximately 1,000,000,000 ($376 CDN) for a total investment of nearly $2,700 CAD.

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Along with her herd of cattle sister also raises pigs and goats to diversify her income. She has constructed raised pens for both the goats and pigs so that the manure can be collected and used as fertilizer elsewhere on the farm.

Sister Antonia is appreciative of the partnership she has begun with SNV and Veterinarians without Borders, and is looking forward to continued support for the development of her farm.

Getting down to work in Kenya

Muriega! (“Hi all” in Kikuyu, the local language spoken in Mukurwe-ini)

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The three of us visiting the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, which is part of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Kenya Ltd. 

We would like to formally introduce you to the VWB team Kenya!
We are a mini force of three. Kelly Hammond (photo left) is a vet student from Manitoba heading into her second year. She aims to work in mixed animal practice after graduation and is very interested in contributing to sustainable agricultural practices on a global scale.  Megan White (photo center) is a Registered Vet Tech and agricultural student from Alberta. This is her second trip to Kenya, and she is excited to see how veterinary medicine contributes to human and animal welfare in developing nations.Alina Gardiner (photo right) is a vet student from Ontario heading into third year.  Alina wants to work in a bovine practice after graduation, so she is thrilled to be on the dairy team andto collaborate with Kenyan farmersto improvethe health of their calves.

We’re sure all of you (especially our families) are wondering what we have been up to! The internet is not always reliable here, so we are extra excited to share our experiences through this blog.

We have just arrived in Mukurwe-ini, our final placement destination, after spending the past week with Dr. John VanLeeuwen and The Farmers Helping Farmers team in Meru learning the ropes and acclimatizing to the farming techniques here in Kenya! We were able to practice our physical exams, body condition scoring and pregnancy checks under the watchful eye of Dr. John.

This summer we will be working with women and youth members of the Wakulima Dairy Ltd. We will be hosting seminars focusing on dairy calf health and welfare and making small changes and recommendations on farm. In addition, we will be visiting primary schools to educate children about zoonotic diseases and hygienic practices related to animal handling. Our overall goal is to help educate dairy farmers to improve the health of their animals and promote a sustainable livelihood in their communities.

Kenya is a beautiful country, and we have taken at least 500 photos each, but have included just a few of our favorites from the past week below.

Photo2smallOne of the many calves we examined with the beautiful scenery of Naari in the background.

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In the last week, we have had to get creative with restraint techniques. Alina is holding a cow while Kelly listens to the heart as part of a physical exam.

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Alina performing a pregnancy check of one of the cows in Meru with Dr. John’s guidance. 

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Photo 7: A small 6-month-old calf. With the help of Dr. John and the other vet students we gave nutrition recommendations to the farmer to help with normal growth.

#VetsWithoutBorders #FarmersHelpingFarmers #Kenya #Cows #Vetsinthemaking

This project is supported by VWB-Canada and the Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre