Wishing we could stay longer

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