Time is flying at lightening speed. With many goals we hope to accomplish before we leave we are starting to worry that 3 months is not nearly enough to address all of the challenges of the project. This week was a little disappointing as both Laura and I caught the flu and had to take a day off work, combined with the fact that our guide was tied up with other FAOC activates which left us spending most of the week just trying to find our way around. We have high hopes for a more productive week ahead of us and have tried mapping out how we can accomplish our goals with only a month and a half left.
This week did consist of some perks though, so it was not a complete loss. We had the fortune to attend a “passing on ceremony” in the Kyera parish. This involves members of the community passing on money or household goods to another member that is need. It was really warming to see how the community comes together and supports one another. Each member gets his/her turn at receiving the donations. The members contribute what they can at that point in time. The ceremony also came with a huge feast, music and dancing! When you give the recipient money you have to stand in a line and everyone dances and you have to do a little solo dance before you pass the money on. It was great fun and pretty incredible to see a 70 year old man shake his booty like he was in his 20’s! Ugandans KNOW how to dance
I also need to back up and mention that we handed out 7 goats to the community last week through the generous donations from Dr.Nazarelli (the pharmacist working on an HIV/AIDs awareness project) and Eric Lawrenece and Annelie Crook
(the Global Vets students who were with us for 3 weeks). The ladies who received the goats all fulfilled the requirements of having a pen, proper nutrition, proper husbandry and a successful operation. The ladies were extremely grateful and deserved it after all of their hard work. They also provide as an example of what it requires to receive a second goat…we are hoping that other members of the group will realize that they can also have a second goat if they work hard.
We have been going around to the old beneficiaries lately and looking at some of the challenges that they are facing. Our findings consist of Brucella outbreaks, Clostridial disease, high death rates and diminished revolving funds (funds that all the members have access to and can borrow money for school fees etc.; to be returned with interest). We have been Brucella testing some of the worst hit parishes and are hoping to reduce disease outbreak by replacing positive goats. We have also decided that having a closed FAOC herd would be the best option until a vaccine is sorted out. Dr.William (the district vet) has been looking into finding out about importing the vaccine. The trouble is that we are having a hard enough time trying to implement yearly Clostridial vaccines that we aren’t sure that the route of the vaccine is going to work. We are planning to do a vaccine day with the paravet in Kyera ( a parish that has been hard hit by sudden death) which will hopefully be held on the same day every year. We aren’t sure how well compliance will be but some farmers are motivated to vaccinate because they are frustrated with high death rates in seemingly healthy goats.
Lastly, we have come across issues with theft. Widows are targets because people in the community know that they are alone and have no means of defense. One lady had 4 goats stolen, even though they were locked in a separate room overnight- the thieves broke down the door (it only had a small lock on it) and took them all and even her matoke! We aren’t really sure how to address this issue because the women fear having animals because they know that they are targets. Some women keep the goats in the room with them at night…which is a hygiene nightmare, but really, who can blame them! It is really sad to see these women, who have been through so much, to be taken advantage of.
On a lighter note, Laura and I have been enjoying our new residence, and learning to cook Ugandan food- with some hits, and defiantly some misses! We found a local dairy outlet that sells feta cheese and yogurt! Sooooo exciting!!! We went to an outdoor dance club last night “the heat” which was super fun, but we were ashamed with our dancing skills compared to the Ugandan women who shake it!
We hope everyone is doing well at home and have recovered from the embarrassment that was seen in Vancouver this week (referring to the riots, no the game loss). We also wish everyone else lots of luck and excitement with their VWB projects!
Laura and Jess