I write this blog in great spirits after finishing a very rewarding day. I left off last time with aspirations of constructing a goat pen at our demonstration farm. Construction was started by Scott, Jerome, Laura and myself with the help of Joseph who is a FAOC extension worker. We had a great time starting the work but at the end of the day all we had managed was the frame of the pen. To ensure the rest of our summer would not be spent building the pen we decided to hire a local carpenter who constructed a model pen. The past week has been spent finding goats to purchase for our beneficiaries. Goats are usually sold in small numbers (3-5 at a time), so we have been driving around to many farms in order to obtain the numbers we need. We have been conducting pre-purchase exams which includes a full physical plus Brucella testing. Brucellosis is a bacterial disease which is very prevalent in the area. The disease is responsible for causing abortions in the dams and infertility in the males. The disease is zoonotic (can transfer from animals to humans) so we have been working hard to decrease the prevalence in our goats. A blood sample is collected and taken back to our lab for analysis. Unfortunately of the goats we tested, a large number were positive, making our work more difficult. The good news is we managed to find 35 healthy females for distribution. We transported the goats back to our newly constructed pen where they were ear tagged, dewormed, hoof trimmed, and sprayed for ticks.
Today was our first official goat distribution ceremony. It was a full day program which took place at the demostration farm. We began with reviewing the important points on goat husbandry, nutrition, and health. Scott then went over the principals of the pass on scheme. This is the foundation of the program. Each member is entitled to receive two female goats as a loan. Once the goat has kids, the member needs to then pay back the loan. A female kid is given to a new member and a male kid is sold and the money enters into a revolving fund. The revolving fund functions as an internal micro-loan system. Members take out loans with minimal interest to help with their buisness’, household expenses, and school fees. After the seminar we started to hand out goats where the 35 goats were distributed to beneficiaries who had constructed a pen and harvested Napier grass for feeding. This would not have worked without the kind donations from friends, family, and everyone at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. I was sure to mention where these donations came from which was met with cheers and applause. Thanks again to everyone who has donated!
On another happy note, we have been visiting Brian regularly and he has been improving each day. He was given antibiotics for current infections and started on a nutrition program. Unfortunately we were correct in assuming his HIV status, but he has started anti-retro virals which will help extend his life span enormously. We visited him today and saw him smiling, laughing, and even walking with some assistance. The aunts biggest concern was loosing income while staying in the hospital with Brian. We have supplemented her lost income for the month and donated some money to help with her children’s school fees. This all came to $30 Canadian. Brian will be in the hospital for another couple weeks and we will be visiting him frequently.
After a hard couple weeks of work we will be taking a short break to Lake Buyonyi, a favorite place of Dr. McDonald. After some rest and relaxation we will be ready to start the search for more goats to pass out in the upcoming weeks. Today is my convocation day and I am sad to miss it. I wish I could be there with my fellow classmates to celebrate our accomplishments. Congratulations to the WCVM 2012 , I will be thinking of you all today.
All the best,